Weather Forecast


Powerful July 2 storm's effects still felt in Cass County

Monday’s powerful storm left destruction and long-term power outages in its wake as it toppled giant trees in Cass County.

Friday, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office reported cleanup efforts from Monday night’s wind storm continue in the Cass Lake, Pike Bay and Lake Winnibigoshish areas. Bonnie Lembke, who lives just south of Cass Lake, said straight-line winds overturned large trees and snapped others off 10 to 20 feet up the trunk. Lembke lost power for 24 hours. Her sister, Tammy, who lives by Steamboat Lake, was without power for 69 hours. The storm pushed through Bemidji, Cass Lake and Grand Rapids, where people are still out of power.

Lembke looked at helicopter shots of the area-wide destruction.

“It just looked like toothpicks just snapped off,” she said of the tree damage and loss.

Lembke’s cousin was at Norway Beach when the July 2 storm hit and she said the group was in two vehicles trying to make their way to Highway 2. The second vehicle stopped to help a family without transportation evacuate the beach. As they tried to leave the area, giant Norways started to fall. One crushed the truck’s bed. Lembke said she didn’t believe anyone was hurt but the photos show a mangled vehicle.

“The trees are huge out there,” Lembke said of Norway Beach Recreation Area, five miles east of Cass Lake. After the storm, Chippewa National Forest officials closed the Norway Beach area because of the extensive damage.

In Cass Lake, trees littered city streets and now many are pushed to the side. Lembke said she believed crews used snowplows to help clear streets.

In a news release, Sheriff Tom Burch reported there are still many residents without power and many trees down blocking some rural roads, forest roads and driveways. The Cass County Sheriff’s office reported it has been busy checking on residents, taking reports of downed trees and power lines and assisting getting supplies including chain saw gas and oil into remote areas.

“Sheriff Burch reminds citizens and visitors in this area to be cautious of downed trees and power lines as well has trees and limbs that are still hanging and now completely down. On Friday, Burch and staff from the Sheriff’s Office assisted in with the cleanup efforts at the Pines Resort on the Lake Winnibigoshish,” the sheriff’s department reported.

Lembke said the storm didn’t last that long. But the effects and cleanup continue. The U. S. Forest Service reported the Norway Beach Recreation Area, South Pike Bay Campground and West Winnie Campground are temporarily closed because of storm damage.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
(218) 855-5852