Storms, Tornadoes Cause Damage in North-Central Minnesota


At least two tornadoes, torrential rain and powerful winds damaged homes, forced the evacuation of a nursing home, and flooded highways in north-central Minnesota.

Up to 20 homes were damaged by a tornado in Meeker County on Monday afternoon, authorities said. The communities of Litchfield and nearby Watkins were hard hit by the storms. Fifty residents were removed from the Hilltop Health Care Center in Watkins after the home lost part of its roof. The American Red Cross said it is assisting the evacuees.

In Litchfield, about 70 miles west of Minneapolis, Mayor Keith Johnson said there was serious damage, but that no one was injured.

“I’ve lived in this town 52 years and I’ve never seen a storm like this in our community,” Johnson said.

Diane Kelbing tells KARE-TV she and her husband heard the tornado warning siren, left their home and raced to their mobile home park shelter.

“Well, the garage is gone, the shed is gone, the snowmobile trailer is gone. We’ve got a snow plow in the tree,” Kelbing said.

Audrey Schoenberg took shelter at a nearby restaurant after a tornado flipped her home off its foundation.

“I’m numb. I’m numb. I don’t know really what I do feel right now. It’s quite a shock to see that everything is gone,” she said.

Law enforcement also reported a tornado touchdown around 6:30 p.m. Monday, three miles east of Rockville, in Stearns County, according to the National Weather Service.

The storms generated a deluge of heavy rain, causing the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office to advise against travel late Monday because of flooding. In St. Cloud, powerful rain flooded streets and left some motorists stranded in high water. In a Baxter industrial park, a foot of water covered the roadways. The National Weather Service reported 11 inches of rain fell in the east-central Minnesota city of Sturgeon Lake.

The agency also issued a flash flood warning for much of northwestern Wisconsin after as much as 9 inches of rain fell in some areas. Parts of eight counties were under the flash flood warning until early Tuesday morning.

The weather service said it received reports from law enforcement that state, county and local roads were under water in the warned areas, including Grantsburg, Spooner, Hayward, Ashland, Iron River and Trego.

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