Bemidji residents spend Fourth of July cleaning up storm damage

BEMIDJI - Barbecues and fireworks weren't on the minds of some Bemidji residents Wednesday. Rather than celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, some homeowners were still working to clean up from Monday night's storm. Steve Carpenter said he mostly...

Cleaning up around home
The Fourth of July holiday didn't stop Bemidji residents from continuing the cleanup process from Monday's storms. Here, Nick Wichern cleans up sticks and rocks from his home on Gould Street Southeast. Wichern said he worked 12 hours each on Tuesday and Wednesday but could see the finish line, but this was the last step in his cleanup process. Jack Hittinger | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - Barbecues and fireworks weren't on the minds of some Bemidji residents Wednesday.

Rather than celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, some homeowners were still working to clean up from Monday night's storm.

Steve Carpenter said he mostly had downed trees but his roof also was missing shingles.

"I started cleaning up the night it happened," Carpenter said. "I started by helping clear the road."

Carpenter, who lives on Kay Avenue Southeast, said he was spending his holiday moving his trees to the edge of the road for the city to pick up next week.


"We have a greenhouse and it's pretty much done for from this," Carpenter said. "This pretty much closed it down."

Carpenter said he had yet to go back to the greenhouse to see the extent of the damage.

Carpenter, who has lived in his home for 22 years, said he finally had power at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, but his neighbors across the street didn't have power until Wednesday morning.

Over on Stoner Avenue Southeast, Terri Mrazek was helping her neighbor Judy Tobin with cleanup.

"I lost one tree, but I'm helping my neighbor because she had a tree fall on her roof," Mrazek said.

Mrazek said she spent about eight hours on cleanup Tuesday and thought she would spend her Independence Day doing something more fun.

Tobin's sons Chuck and Patrick were repairing her roof just enough until the insurance company could come and inspect it, Mrazek said.

"She might need a new roof," Mrazek said. "Afterwards, it didn't look like much until we started getting into it."


Tobin was in Detroit Lakes camping when the storm hit, she said.

"I didn't know anything had happened until my neighbor called and told me I had a tree on my roof," Tobin said. "I drove home that night and my son drove in from Fargo. It was very hectic."

Tobin said she and her sons put in 12 hours Tuesday.

"The big project was to get the tree off the house while making sure it didn't come straight down and ruin the siding," Tobin said. "We lost one tree from the storm and ended up cutting two more down because they were so damaged."

Tobin said her lights came back on around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday but her internet and phone service didn't come back on until Wednesday.

Deb Heins and Becky Nielsen were finishing the final bit of cleanup Wednesday at Nielsen's home on Gould Avenue Southeast. Nielsen was mowing her yard while Heins moved the last few branches to the side of the road for pickup.

Heins said she spent all day Tuesday raking the yard and moving timber into piles.

"We were at (Lake) Bemidji State Park having a picnic when it got dark," Heins said. "We thought we should get home."


Nielsen had a tree fall on her fence during the storm.

"We're just finishing up," Nielsen said. "I will have to get the tree cut up that landed on my fence at some point."

Power was restored to Nielsen's home around 3 p.m. Tuesday but she was without internet and cable until Wednesday afternoon, she said.

Caara Holmstrom, owner of Animal Land, said she had more than 100 trees down or uprooted but couldn't start cleanup until her downed power lines were fixed.

"The main thing I want people to know is that all the animals are fine," Holmstrom said. "All of their cages are fine. I don't know how. It's crazy."

All of Animal Land's safety precautions withstood the storm, so once the downed power lines are fixed and trees are cleared, Holmstrom said Animal Land will be ready to reopen.

"We actually have power, but all of the lines are on the ground," Holmstrom said. "The storm also took the back corner of my house and the canvas shed our Bobcat sits in is gone."

While Animal Land is a tourist destination, Holmstrom said the business will lose a few days because of the storm but there won't be any changes once it's back up and running.

Holmstrom has excavators coming today to move the big trees and plenty of volunteers have offered to come help haul branches and rake once she needs it, she said.

"My goal is to be open by the weekend," Holmstrom said. "But at the very least we should be back up and running next week."

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