By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When bad weather strikes, the Minnesota National Guard lends a hand. But this week, the guard is doing some of its own cleanup following a stormy night.

Violent winds ripped the roofs off several buildings at the Camp Ripley Training Center in Little Falls on Wednesday night. That storm also wiped out part of the state’s first solar power plant.

“All of the sudden wind and water just came through my window,” staff sergeant Tanya Tschida said.

It was the rain and wind that woke up Sgt. Tschida around 10:30 Wednesday night. She didn’t realize just how strong the wind was until she looked outside.

(credit: SSG Anthony Housey, MN National Guard)

(credit: SSG Anthony Housey, MN National Guard)

“You could see roofs off buildings and water spouts coming out of the top of buildings,” Sgt. Tschida said.

She never even heard the roof blow off the barracks she was staying in. The storm did significant damage to her car, and tore through several buildings and trees.

One rooftop was torn off by the wind and carried about 40 yards away and the solar field, which was near completion, was badly damaged.

“It was completely without warning,” staff sergeant Anthony Housey said.

Housey said luckily there were no injuries. There were about 200 people staying on base Wednesday night. On the weekends he said that number jumps to 800 or more.

“We could have been in much worse circumstances had it been two days from now,” said Sgt. Housey.

The National Weather Service was at Camp Ripley Wednesday trying to figure out if straight line winds did this damage, or if an actual tornado was responsible. They should have an answer sometime Friday.

Housey said it will take time to assess all the damage, and when repairs might begin.

John Lauritsen