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A long week of cleanup ahead for many Hubbard County residents

The Sausers’ curious dog Buddy assessed the damage to their vehicles casued by a large tree that had toppled over the top of them during the storm early Thursday morning. (Nicole Vik/Enterprise)1 / 3
Trees fell on the home and vehicles of Bob and Kris Sauser on 5th Crow Wing Lake. (Nicole Vik/Enterprise)2 / 3
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Chainsaws could be heard all over 5th Crow Wing Lake on Thursday following an early morning storm that hit around 1 a.m. Bob and Kris Sauser, owners of Owl’s Nest Resort on the south side of the lake, were devastated with dozens of trees down on their property.

Kris and Bob had just gone to bed for the night while their three daughters Kasey, Karissa and Kyrsten were still awake when the power went out, and everything became very still; the wind  suddenly started howling and they heard the sound of a tree crashing down over their house and another landing directly over their two cars that were parked in the driveway.

The Sausers’ son, Andrew, was visiting his girlfriend’s house and they advised him to stay put for the night instead of trying to drive home through the storm. 

Later in the morning after the sun came up, the damage was far greater than they had first thought.

With over a foot of rain accumulated over the last week the water level on the lake had risen and their docks were nearly underwater. With so much moisture in the ground and the soil at the resort being mostly sandy the straight-line winds blew in off the lake and uprooted a lot of their trees, sending them crashing down over the property.

Kris and Bob discovered not only did a tree fall on their own house but two of the cabins within the resort as well. Three birch trees uprooted and fell directly over the top of the resort’s playground. And a large portion of the shoreline had been uprooted from a cluster of trees that fell over during the storm.

Some of the beach equipment, such as buckets, floaties and lounge chairs were blown up the hill from the beach toward the cabins and swallowed up among the tree branches that had been blown over. Their Bongo water park had been flipped upside down on the water and the water slide was knocked over.   

Trees came down over their power line in multiple places and knocked down a power pole.

"I’m just so overwhelmed at this point," Kris said about the enormous amount of debris left behind by the storm.

This is the first week this summer the resort hasn’t been fully booked, with only two cabins occupied at the time of the storm.

"We were thinking it was unfortunate that we weren’t fully booked," Kris said. "In hindsight it was kind of nice we weren’t full."

With the power being knocked out and no telling when it will be restored the Sausers hooked up to a small generator to at least supply running water.

The cleanup, which includes cutting up trees, gathering and hauling away debris, resetting the beach equipment, alerting the power company and an electrician, as well as several calls to their insurance companies, is already underway for the Sausers.

The resort has been family owned for 45 years, and according to Kris, this is the first claim she can recall they have ever had to make to the insurance company.  

As far as they can tell there is minimal structure damage, however their vehicles have significant damage.

"We’re just glad no one was hurt. It could have been much worse. All in stride, one day at a time. it’ll all work itself out," Kris said about the work ahead of them.

"Everything can pretty much be picked up and hauled away," Bob added.

With a lot of unknown variables with their insurance and when they’ll receive power again, one thing the Sausers know for sure is that they are looking at a week or longer of cleanup.

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