BEMIDJI, Minn. (WCCO) – Bemidji residents are dealing with widespread damage and no power after severe weather ripped through the area late Monday night.
High winds uprooted trees, downed power lines and knocked out telephone service throughout the city. At one point, authorities said the entire city was without power. Work crews have had difficulty clearing out damage with several power lines down throughout the city, according to officials.
“We saw a big, black cloud coming across, and after the rain and the wind hit, all we could see is water coming across the house,” Bemidji resident Pat Sanford said.
Many residents still don’t have power, and officials say it could be restored for all by Wednesday. But due to the extent of the damage, the repairs are taking longer than initially expected. Most customers in Bemidji had their power restored by Tuesday evening, but some further from main lines may have to spend another night without power.
Authorities had a curfew in place for no travel from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Although that curfew has been lifted, travel is not advised throughout the city unless it’s absolutely necessary because of the damage.
The National Weather service reported that the storm produced straight-line winds of 70 to 80 miles per hour. Other communities in its path included Grand Rapids and Itasca. Numerous homes have been damaged, with several missing their roofs from the winds.
An aerial survey of the damage showed it was consistent with a non-tornadic event, as the damage lay west to east.
Officials said thousands of people are still without power in Bemidji. Utility crews have been called out to more than 100 locations throughout the city. Warning sirens went off in the city around 6:30 p.m. Monday, and although there were several public reports of a funnel cloud about four miles south of the city, there were no reports of any tornadoes.
The 4th of July holiday doesn’t look to hold much relief as weather conditions are expected to become unstable and develop into severe weather. Authorities caution those celebrating the holiday to keep a source of weather information close. Temperatures are expected to climb to the mid-90s, so avoid strenuous physical activity and keep hydrated.
It’s a similar story in Grand Rapids, where city officials said limited travel is recommended after severe weather hit the area. The Grand Rapids Police Department said there are several downed trees and power lines in the city.
Officials said the power is off in a majority of the city, but residents are advised to stay away from any downed power lines. Utility crews are working to restore power, but officials said there could be lengthy delays before power is back on.