By Jeff Wagner

BIG LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — Families in central Minnesota are cleaning up after the earliest tornado in state history hit Monday.

High winds flipped boats and trailers that had been stored in one yard all over a neighborhood in Big Lake.

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(credit: CBS)

Homeowners described parts of their neighborhood next to Lake Ann as a war zone. Large trees were snapped left and right and entire streets were clogged with branches and brush.

Power was out, homes and cars were damaged and firefighters had already been working to clear the debris for several hours Monday night.

But some pieces are much harder to move than others.

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One home next to the lake had several boats scattered across the yard, none of which belong to the homeowner. In fact, they say a boat trailer came flying into their back sliding door, right into the very room where they were seeking shelter.

The homeowner said her husband first saw a boat literally fly by outside his window and he knew right then they needed to take cover.

“So we ran into the center of the basement area and crash, bang, all kinds of noises. And I actually felt the air kind of pull me,” Katherine Curtis said.

“Just you know, people, pay attention. When your weather people tell you something’s coming, pay attention. Because it happens and you just don’t think it’s going to be you but here we are.”

Several power lines were down along County Road 4, just west of Zimmerman. Crews were also clearing trees that snapped and stopped traffic.

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At last check, Connexus Energy said about 2,300 customers were without power. They hope to have it restored by sunrise.

Jeff Wagner