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Storms wallop area – UPDATED

By Staff | Jun 21, 2014

Many Estherville residents dealt with downed trees and branches as well as twigs and leaves following Monday evening’s storm, which dropped up to 2 inches in rain in under an hour in many places. High winds accompanied the rain, making travel difficult for a time. Photo by David Swartz

It wasn’t enough for Mother Nature to send one storm to the area this past week. After high winds and torrential rains created tree damage and other problems throughout Emmet County and surrounding areas on Monday, torrential rains returned Thursday afternoon to give Wallingford problems.

According to Emmet County Emergency Management Directory Terry Reekers, heavy rains threatened the small town 6 miles south of Estherville on Thursday.

Reekers said 3 to 4 inches came down in a short period of time in the afternoon.

“The rains came off the hills west of town and the water came across the highway (Highway 4),” he said. “It’s water like many hadn’t seen in years.”

Reekers said the span extended from one end of town to the other along the highway.

“It started to flood the residences and business around the highway,” he said.

A creek that runs through town also became full-an area that has had to be sandbagged in previous incidences.

The Estherville Fire Department was paged to assist if needed. Fortunately, the rain stopped and the threat had dissipated within two to three hours.

Further south on Highway 4 toward Graettinger, Reekers said a private resident’s pond turned into a lake that also overflowed onto the highway.

“That’s a bad location,” said Reekers. “It’s hilly so drivers couldn’t see the water until they came over the hill.”

Reekers set the Emmet County Sheriff’s Department and Iowa Department of Transportation detoured traffic around the area for 3 to 4 hours.

On Tuesday, residents in Northwest Iowa and Southwest Minnesota began cleaning up the damage created by Monday’s high winds and rain.

Emmet County received a severe thunderstorm warning shortly before 5 p.m. and then began to produce marble size hail. Moments later, the sky darkened, the winds picked up and rain came in torrents.

The Estherville City Council was wrapping up its meeting around 5:10 p.m., when city hall lost power. Upon exiting the building, councilors observed water up over the curbs in downtown Estherville with rampant street flooding, as the storm sewers were unable to handle the heavy rain.

Winds, reportedly gusting up to 75 miles an hour, drove the nearly 2 inches of rain that fell within 30 minutes.

Power was out in most of Estherville for 1 1/2 to 2 hours with power restored to most homes by 7 p.m.

Reekers said Tuesday morning there were many reports of trees and branches down.

“There also were water issues all over Estherville,” he said. “We’ve had flooding problems before and last night’s rain exasperated the problem.”

With the tree damage, cable and power lines were downed as well.

After the past two growing seasons have ended in drought, that’s now not the case.

“Any more rain at all is unwelcome,” Reekers said.

Many areas of the county received 2 inches of precipitation on Saturday with many locations reporting 3 to 4 inches from Monday’s storm.

On Friday, Reekers said cleanup was continuing countywide.

“There are still some electric issues-power was restored, but some were just temporary fixes,” he said. “They (electrical crews) did a good job in returning power in a timely manner.”

Even with the two storms this week, Reekers said Emmet County was fortunate to miss the events that flowed Rock Rapids and Rock Valley. A rope tornado also was reported west of Terril on Thursday.