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Wind rakes Wright County

By Staff | Jun 25, 2015

A bicycle, furniture and other debris litter the field where a prefab house was hit by strong winds Monday morning. The house’s front steps can be seen to the right, as well as damage to the roof of an Iowa Select hog building in the background.

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CLARION – Heavy winds destroyed a home, damaged a hog confinement and chicken facilities south of Clarion, and left trees down across Wright County Monday morning.

Meteorologist Kenny Podrazik, of the National Weather Service in Des Moines, said no tornadoes were actually reported, but there was “widespread wind damage.”

A number of reports indicate gusts of 70 miles per hour or greater, Podrazik said, including 60 miles per hour in Algona and an estimated 70 miles per hour reported from a home weather station set up in Plover.

The main line of storms that caused the damage moved into the area before 7 a.m. and was primarily out of the state by 10 a.m., according to Podrazik.

Workers pick up roofing and other debris that blew off Iowa Select hog barns, at left, after high winds Monday morning a few miles west of Galt. The wind spread debris throughout the field to the east, and pushed a prefab house next to the operation off its foundation.

Podrazik said the storm was moving fast enough that it didn’t cause significant flooding, but flash flooding did occur in areas due to storm drain systems not being able to handled the initial downpour.

A prefabricated house next to the Iowa Select hog facility, just a few miles west of Galt, was blown off its foundation and torn apart by the wind.

Iowa Select Director of Operations Tony Thies said the company uses the house, though he didn’t know who was living there.

Thies was overseeing workers picking up tin roofing and other debris from the ditches and road east of the buildings.

The damage to the 4,000-sow operation was probably greater than $1 million, Thies said. Iowa Select had other farms damaged in Wright County, as well as Butler and Franklin County.

-Farm News photos by Joe Sutter An irrigation pivot lays on its side after high winds hit the area south of Clarion Monday morning.

“The total in the company, probably is around $3 (million) to $4 million, but it’s too early to tell,” he said.

Rows of trucks were also busy moving the hogs to another location.

“There’s quite a bit of damage,” Thies said.

The damage looked like straight-line winds, not a tornado, because of the way the debris was blown, he said.

Downed poles left the facility without power, so it was running on a generator.

Still, Thies was glad the winds hadn’t gone directly through a town.

“These hog buildings can be repaired rather quickly versus somebody’s home,” he said.

Chicken farms in the area were also damaged, including to Centrum Valley Farms.

Several barns lost all or part of their roofs, but all employees were accounted for, and there were no major injuries or loss of life, according to a company statement.

“Our north farm location in Wright County has sustained significant damage from this morning’s storms. At this time, we are still assessing the situation,” the statement said. “Our immediate focus is on doing what is needed to address the welfare of our hens, in a manner that assures the safety of our employees working onsite.”

Dean Cleaveland, of MidAmerican Energy, was also on the scene at Iowa Select overseeing some downed lines.

Poles were down on U.S. Highway 69, impeding traffic for part of the morning.

The worst damage was pretty much in a straight line, as far as Cleaveland knew, about three miles south of Clarion.

He’d also seen lines down in Eagle Grove, and been caught in the storm himself.

“I had to stop and pull under a tree, there was so much hail,” Cleaveland said.

Ashton Newton, media relations representative from MidAmerican Energy, said about 140 customers were without power in Eagle Grove Monday afternoon, while five customers were without power in Clarion.

No outages were reported in Fort Dodge or Humboldt.

In Eagle Grove, residents of the 300 block of Lucas Avenue were stuck inside early Monday, as a large branch fell down on top of a pole, blocking driveways and leaving wires down.

Leroy Orr said the tree fell outside his home at about 4:30 or 5 a.m.

“I was sleeping well,” he said. “Then I heard a pop.”

Orr said there was pea-sized hail that morning, and multiple roads throughout town were blocked by trees.

Justin Barkema, of Barkema Tree Service, said other than an apartment building roof in Clarion that was ripped off, he hadn’t heard of major damage except for downed limbs.

“It’s pretty typical,” he said. “We haven’t seen any on houses.”

There were also trees down along Iowa Highway 3, he said.

Boyd and Deloras Crees were cleaning up their property along that road.

“We have four acres here, and we have four acres of trees to clean up,” Boyd Crees said.

The Crees had been at their property in Lake Cornelia, which they said wasn’t damaged by the storm. They were glad the power wasn’t knocked out, though the damage did leave Boyd a little frustrated.

“It broke my new flagpole,” he said.

The storm also impacted Humboldt County.

Sheriff Dean Kruger said most of the damage was to buildings and trees getting knocked down.

“There’s also power poles leaning or snapped off,” Kruger said, though he added that nobody was hurt.

In Webster County, Emergency Management Coordinator Scott Forbes said he had not received any reports of damage.

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