By John Lauritsen

CANNON FALLS, Minn. (WCCO) – It has been nine days since a record number or tornadoes rolled through parts of the state.

Fifteen tornadoes touched down on Sept. 20, a record for the month of September in Minnesota.

One of the cities that saw the worst damage is Cannon Falls, where two tornadoes touched down.

St. Ansgar’s Lutheran Cemetery was hit especially hard. Sixty trees are down and dozens of burial sites are damaged. Some of them date back to the 1870s.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say it’s probably a 9. It’s a mess,” said volunteer Charlie Sabrowsky.

Early Saturday morning it was impossible to drive into the cemetery, but thanks to volunteers, chainsaws and chippers, progress is being made while safety remains a priority.

“I’m more worried about people getting hurt,” Sabrowsky said. “It’s a twisted mess and you have to be careful about what you do.”

“There’s been truck after truck going through constantly, loaded as high as they can get them,” said volunteer Gary Esterby.

The cleanup effort didn’t stop at the cemetery, but went across town Saturday where homes suffered storm damage.

“There was this loud, high-pitched, almost like a siren sound. Like swirling winds,” said homeowner Deb Klegin.

Klegin’s home survived one of the tornadoes, but some of her trees did not. Volunteers spent most of the day cleaning up her street and removing a dead tree.

“It’s laying on top of another tree. I don’t want to lose that tree also, but it barely missed our house and barely missed our driveway,” Klegin said.

Though the damage is extensive, there were no injuries or deaths in Cannon Falls related to the storm.

“The thing we are most happy about with this storm is we had zero injuries or deaths,” said Chief Jeff McCormick, Cannon Falls Police. “Everything was property damage and that can be repaired or rebuilt.”

Back at the cemetery, one of the challenges for cleanup is that some of the headstones are so old that heavy equipment can’t be used for fear it will damage the burial site, so it could be months before everything is back to normal.

Volunteers from four cities turned out to help Cannon Falls on Saturday.

A number of parks and trails still remain closed in the city.

John Lauritsen


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