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Storm leaves destruction in Gilman

Powerful winds cause fallen trees, power outages

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - A powerful storm system blew down trees and ripped up sheds like this one Wednesday night. Local emergency officials said parts of Gilman were still without power parts of Thursday, and that cleanup will take several days.

GILMAN — A rural community is pulling together to clean up damage from a powerful thunderstorm earlier this week.

“We had quite a little bit of tree damage, some structural damage, there are still places in town that don’t have power yet,” said Gilman Fire Chief Randy Mommer in the wake of the storm Thursday morning. “Power poles, power lines, several buildings out in the country — machine sheds and barns and stuff were blown over.”

Marshall County got hit by a storm system moving from west to east Wednesday evening, though most of the county didn’t see the same kind of damage as the Gilman area. Mommer said no injuries had been reported as of Thursday morning.

“It dissipated on most of the western side of the county … but when it got south of Le Grand, it looked like it intensified,” said Marshall County Emergency Management Coordinator Kim Elder. “It looks like the intensified cell moved through Gilman and maybe just a little bit east, also.”

One factor that contributed to the damage in the area was a wet microburst, Elder said. She got the information from National Weather Service personnel on Thursday.

“There were several isolated areas where the updraft of thunderstorms collapsed and enhanced the wind damage,” she said.

The NWS reported the wind damage was produced by straight-line winds and wet microbursts, she said.

A microburst describes a powerful, downward thrust of air pressure that happens when the core of a storm drops toward the ground, according to the NWS. In this case, the “wet” microburst included rain from the system.

“When they hit the ground, they push out in every direction — just like if you were dumping a pail of water, the splash will go in all directions,” Elder said. “The updraft is where the storm is sucking things back upward, so when they collapse, they dump straight back down to the ground, the energy just falls.”

Mommer said much of the damage he saw within the city was caused more by fallen trees than the straight-line winds reported in the area. Out of town, he said sheds and other light farm buildings got more wind damage.

“Right at the east edge of town, there was a large shed that was actually pushed off its foundation,” he said. “I was actually out in it when the wind was blowing, and I talked to several people; one guy was parked on a gravel road … because it was raining so hard he couldn’t go any further and the wind actually pushed him sideways, clear to the ditch.”

That person, Mommer said, had a three-quarter ton pickup truck. No official wind speeds were available by press time on Thursday.

Community members worked to clean up debris and clear roads. Mommer said the cleanup process will take several days.

“Where we normally dump our brush for the city is really muddy right now, so we’re asking citizens to hang on to their brush until next week and then the city will announce where we’re going to have the brush dump,” he said.

For more information on the storm damage in Gilman, visit the Facebook pages for Marshall County Emergency Management or the City of Gilman.

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Contact Adam Sodders at

(641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com

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