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Austin Utilities make repairs, debris cleared

By Sarah Doty, Tim Ruzek and Kevin Hanson

news@postbulletin.com

Driving along Fourth Street Northwest in Austin, the path of Wednesday night’s tornado is clear.

Downed power lines, an overturned trailer, uprooted trees, debris caught in power lines, collapsed buildings and pieces of sheet metal flapping in the wind like paper are a testament to the power of the storm.

The National Weather Service put Wednesday’s tornado in its "strong" category, with winds reaching up to 110 mph. The tornado struck from 8 p.m. to 8:23 p.m. and left a 10-mile path up to 120 yards wide.

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Residents and workers began to clean up the mess on Thursday.

Crews for Austin Utilities and the city spent much of Thursday repairing power lines and clearing tree debris. The storm left the city without power.

About 90 percent of the community had its electrical service restored by Thursday afternoon. Everyone was expected to have power restored by today.

Tim Bos and his brother Jeff were clearing debris left by several downed trees on his property at 541 241st St. N.W.

"It just kept funneling more and more," Bos said about the storm. "As soon as it started raining, the wind picked up and then hail started. Then I headed to my basement."

Bos didn’t know of any damage to his house, although his roof might have been damaged by golf ball-sized hail.

His neighbor just down the road at Pro-Build, 3714 Fourth St. N.W., wasn’t so lucky.

Manager Roger Stratton said nothing at the building supply store was left untouched by the storm. One building was collapsed, and doors and roofs on all the other buildings were damaged.

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"It’s a mess," he said Thursday afternoon. "We are trying to assess damage right now, and clean up."

But Stratton was thankful the storm hit after business hours and took a path away from a large population.

"It looks bad, but it could have been a lot worse," he said. "We are all pretty lucky, and so I am grateful in a sense."

Meanwhile, Natalie Morem and her boyfriend were traveling Wednesday night between Austin and Ramsey on their way to the Old Mill Restaurant when they heard a report on the radio about a tornado approaching the Lansing area.

Nearby, the tornado severely damaged equipment and structures where her father, Dan Morem, owns a tree-and-lawn service, Damel Corp., better known as Morem Tree Services, at 3608 Fourth St. N.W.

As the Morem family took cover in the basement of the house, Morem’s younger brother, Mitchell, was left outside. The family feared the worst.

Luckily, Mitchell had weathered the storm by burying himself under hay and holding onto his dog in the family’s barn.

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