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Wadena County declares natural disaster following Thursday night's severe storm

Verndale area saw brunt of damage with 94 mph winds reported. Power lines are still down and people are encouraged to stay away from these areas.

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The dugout at the Verndale School baseball field was tossed backwards as near 100 mph winds forced the structure over on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal
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WADENA — Wadena County declared a natural disaster Friday, May 13, after near 100 mph winds ripped through a portion of the county Thursday night.
In Verndale, the wind peeled shingles off roofs, toppled mature trees, sent trampolines flying and collapsed a concrete block dugout at the Verndale School baseball field. Power remained out for much of the city Friday morning. Most homes saw at least a tree down. Many had damage to homes.
The Verndale Fire Department along with Wadena County Sheriff's Office deputies were actively handling damage assessments Friday morning. It appears much of the worst damage hit Verndale, where 94 mph winds were reported. Strong winds struck many other parts of the county too as it traveled north from Otter Tail and Todd counties.
The Wadena County board held an emergency meeting Friday morning to vote unanimously to declare the disaster. The declaration states that townships most hard hit appear to be Wadena, Aldrich, Leaf River and Wing River, but the declaration covers all of Wadena County.

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A fallen tree crashed into this boat on the southside of Verndale on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

Sheriff Mike Carr made the recommendation and said there were no reports of injuries or displaced people as of Friday morning. Some of the most severe damage included a mobile home with a roof ripped off and downed power lines along Hwy 104 between Verndale and Wadena. Other sightings included a toppled irrigation system on the south side of Verndale.

Emergency responders discovered a deceased man under a collapsed grain bin just before 7 p.m. Thursday in Kandiyohi County.

Commissioner Murlyn Kreklau was the only county commissioner able to make it to the meeting in person, others joined remotely. Kreklau reported sheds collapsed in his area near Sebeka in central Wadena County.
Crews were busy clearing roadways throughout the night and power companies were attempting to restore power.

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A spruce tree is toppled after winds sailed north down Hwy 71 in Wadena on Thursday, May 12, 2022.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

Power outages are fairly widespread in central Minnesota, indicating the expanse of this powerful storm. Local power utility Todd-Wadena Electric noted 3,500 members were without power on Thursday night. Minnesota Power was working to restore power to the city of Verndale by 11 a.m. on Friday. Aldrich, Browerville, Bertha, Hewitt, Long Prairie and Little Falls were other regional communities in outages. According to PowerOutage.us, there were 52,000 reported outages in Minnesota on Friday morning. That includes 355 in Wadena County, 20% of Todd County, and 18% of Otter Tail County. It shows the path of the storm up from Nebraska, into southwestern Minnesota and waning after exiting Wadena and Cass Counties.
The Verndale School was closed on Friday due to the power outage and an unknown timeline of power being restored.
We'll continue to report on this storm as more information becomes known.

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in the city of Verndale, Minn., but is bent on making it as country as he can until he returns once more to the farm living he enjoys. Also living the dream are his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at mjohnson@agweek.com or 218-640-2312.
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