Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Another look at storm damage in Faribault, in & near my neighborhood September 25, 2018

Trees felled by the Thursday evening storm block the entrance to Wapacuta Park up the hill and within a block of my home.


AS CLEAN-UP CONTINUES in southern Minnesota, the National Weather Service has now identified 10 tornado tracks, five of those in my county of Rice. The strongest, an EF2 tornado with winds of 111- 135 mph, occurred in Morristown some 10 miles to the west of Faribault. Folks in that small town lost homes. The remaining nine were identified as EF1 tornadoes with winds of 86 – 110 mph. The nearest tornado occurred northwest of Faribault in the Roberds Lake area up to Interstate 35 by the Faribault airport, which was destroyed.


One of many fallen trees along about a two-block section of Fourth Avenue Southwest.


The damage in Faribault neighborhoods, including mine, was apparently caused by straight-line winds/downbursts. Sunday afternoon Randy and I drove along Fourth Avenue Southwest, a few blocks up the hill from our home. It is one of my favorite neighborhoods with a tree-lined street fronting many stately old houses. The area has always reminded me of the beautiful homes along Lake Harriet in south Minneapolis.


Fallen trees, limbs and branches edge Fourth Avenue Southwest.


A tree yanked from the ground along Fourth Avenue Southwest.


More fallen trees along the avenue…


Now the landscape of perhaps two blocks of Fourth Avenue looks much different with so many trees fallen or damaged. In many parts of Faribault, there is no evidence that a storm ever hit. I’ve seen only widespread pockets of damage that affect a block or two or three, no more.


Taking a pause from tree removal Sunday afternoon near the Wapacuta Park playground.


Evidence of energy crews working in my neighborhood for 1 1/2 days to restore power.


A look at damage to a neighbor’s property where a tree landed on his garage.


Chainsaws buzz as folks and tree removal services continue with clean-up.


We piled branches from a large fallen limb onto the boulevard for city pick-up next week. Our friend is keeping large hunks of wood (stacked on our driveway) for firewood.


Sunday afternoon Randy and I focused on our own backyard, where a large branch broke off a neighbor’s tree and fell into in a small wooded section of our property. It didn’t hit our garage. But limbs loom above a neighbor’s house. Randy cut branches while I hauled them curbside before our friend Steve arrived with a chainsaw. Steve is Paul Bunyan strong with a heart of gold, always willing to help anyone. Anytime. Saturday he led a crew (including Randy and me) removing a fallen tree from our friend Lisa’s house where three trees uprooted, one landing on her house. Even with 16 people, the job of removing a single tree and branches took several hours.


Along Third Avenue Southwest by Wapacuta Park.


Sunday Randy and I worked several hours on the fallen limb in our yard. After we were well into the project, I learned that the city of Faribault is doing a curbside tree branch pick-up beginning October 1. But they won’t take anything longer than four feet. Alright then. I may be sorting through the pile…

As I write on Sunday evening, Randy is back at our friend’s house helping Steve load chunks of tree trunk and limbs…

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


27 Responses to “Another look at storm damage in Faribault, in & near my neighborhood”

  1. vince2day Says:

    WoW! so powerful, I couldn’t imagine this, we’re so lucky here in the UK.

    Again i wish everyone all the best x

  2. Claudette Says:

    It’s amazing, the power of nature. We had a nasty wind storm a few months ago which uprooted huge trees similar to your pictures…how does this happen? It was near two baseball diamonds where the kids play and it tok weeks to clean it up.

    • The thing with this storm in southern Minnesota is that it covered such a large area with 10 tornadoes. That’s highly unusual for our northern region. I don’t know if we’ve ever had that many tornadoes at one time ever in the state. And then the accompanying straight-line winds with downbursts did significant damage.

      I’m sorry to hear also about your windstorm.

      • Claudette Says:

        They had 2 tornadoes in Ottawa, which is east of Toronto (about a 5 hour drive by car), where tornadoes never hit! Damaged a lot of homes.

        We have to respect nature…right? It’s amazing what can happen in it, good and bad.

        I hope everyone gets back on their feet soon.

      • It will take a long time given the severity of the damage by 10 tornadoes. I feel for the farmers who have lost not only buildings and crops but also their incomes.

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    The neighborhoods will return to “normal” but the traumatic memories will remain, refreshed with each new weather threat. Thankful for no lives lost and crews who put their lives at risk to do the necessary repairs. Hugs…….

    • It truly is amazing that no one died in this storm given the sizable geographic area, the 10 tornadoes and the straight line winds. Thankfully we all had plenty of warning. But even so, some people chose not to seek shelter (like my elderly neighbor who stood at her front picture window and watched; a tree fell within feet of her home) or were caught in the storm (like those along the interstate)…

      I don’t worry as much about the professionals as I do Everyday Citizen who is out with a chainsaw. I’ve already observed some unsafe sawing of trees and limbs in my neighborhood. A chainsaw can slip so easily as wood breaks.

  4. Beth Ann Says:

    Clean up will take a long time. I am sure this is not what you really wanted to be doing at this point but I hope that things come together for you and that clean up is quick. Praying for all those affected.

    • Other than the pile of branches, the pile of wood and getting a new TV antenna, we’re good for now. Well, I do have to saw those branches down to four feet which will take a few hours. But really, it’s all minor compared to what could have been when I look around our neighborhood and see photos of much worse destruction throughout the county. As much as I would like to go and take pictures of all that, I’m not. They don’t need gawkers, of which there have already been way too many. That only hampers the work of crews trying to clean up trees and debris and restore power, etc.

      I feel for your state, too, suffering from the devastation of Hurricane Floyd. I cannot imagine such wind, such water.

  5. Those big beautiful trees – blows my mind the power of nature. Everyone be safe out there who is doing cleanup. Take Care

    • That’s the concern now, that clean-up crews take care. I’m not worried about the professionals. They know what they’re doing. It’s regular people who are not experienced with chainsaws that concern me.

      I also don’t like the storm chaser companies that are driving through neighborhoods, calling, leaving business cards. Some may be legit and honest. But not all certainly.

    • Unfortunately the scammers are out in full force when things like this happen. When Hurricane Irma hit we were not home and a neighbor cleared our trees for us. We were grateful, however; you think about the liability as well if something happened to them on your property.

  6. Almost Iowa Says:

    It was reported that the Red Barn Farm pizza and event venue near Northfield was utterly destroyed. I have never been there but heard from so many people that it was a wonderful place and always wanted to go.

    So sad to hear that these little treasures were lost.

    • Yes, the Red Barn was destroyed. I, too, have always wanted to go there, but had not. According to news reports, the Winter family plans to rebuild. But how do you rebuild a barn like that with the same feel of history and authenticity that appeals to people, especially young couples wanting that setting for a wedding?

      I just received an email from a friend who lives in the rural Morristown area. While she was not personally affected, neighbors were with a house destroyed, barn flattened, a grove ravaged…

  7. How frightening, Audrey! As you know Texas is tornado territory. They terrify me too. I’m glad you and yours are alright. ❤

  8. Oh my goodnsss!! So not good.

    • Yes, it was all a bit scary. Last evening, 10 days after the EF2 tornado and straight line winds here in Faribault, we drove around the countryside, by the airport and along Roberds Lake to view the areas hardest hit. So much damage to farm buildings, houses and the airport along with, I expect, hundreds of trees lost. But no one died. We had plenty of advance warning.

  9. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Wow, Mother Nature sure has moments of beauty and tragedy. I can’t believe this never popped up on our local news. So happy to hear that you are safe.

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