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Four basswood trees fell on this home at 50775 U.S. Highway 71 during Monday night's storm. The home, owned by Jerome and Mary Dufault, is four miles south of Bemidji. The Dufaults also had several other fallen trees, causing significant damage to their property. Submitted photo

Eyes on recovery: Work days set to clear city parks

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Eyes on recovery: Work days set to clear city parks
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI - After a long week of restoring utility services and cleaning up storm debris and damage, recovery is taking shape after two violent thunderstorms storm walloped the region.

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Bemidji officials announced hours for its tree debris disposal site, work days to clean up neighborhood parks and a reminder for property owners that contractors hired for tree removal must have a city-issued license to do the work.

Meanwhile, Beltrami Electric Cooperative restored power to nearly all of its members by Friday evening after an exhausting week that brought two rounds of outages from storms across the county.

Those storms - on Monday night and Wednesday afternoon - left about 9,900 customers without power this week.

Straight-line winds in excess of 80 mph toppled countless trees, downed hundreds of power lines and knocked out power to more than 8,400 households, including about 4,400 Otter Tail Power customers and nearly 4,100 Beltrami Electric members, in the July 2 storm.

It affected about 200,000 acres of forests, including the Chippewa National Forest, in an area about 15 miles wide and 70 miles long along the U.S. Highway 2 corridor. About 15,000 acres sustaining moderate to heavy timber damage, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

At about 1 p.m. Wednesday, another storm, with 60-mph straight-line winds, hit Bemidji's western edge and extended north toward Washkish, Kelliher, Blackduck and Turtle River. Beltrami Electric, which had help from other utility cooperatives, said about 1,500 customers lost power during the storm.

As residents clear their properties, Beltrami County officials urge them to document all damages, including time and money spent on recovery. Property owners should take photos, keep logs of time and expenses, and inventory damage.

The information will aid property owners dealing with insurance claims, and could prove beneficial if Bemidji and Beltrami County apply for a disaster declaration, a necessary step to secure provides relief money for recovery.

By 5:45 p.m. Friday, Beltrami Electric said 21 members remained without power.

"We are really close to the finish line and should be done tonight, with maybe a few remaining for tomorrow morning," Mitch Raile, a spokesman for Beltrami Electric, said in a news release this morning.

The cooperative started Friday with more than 500 customers powerless.

The July 2 storm knocked power out to nearly 4,100 members in the Bemidji area, and while crews worked to bring those people back online, a Fourth of July storm swept to the north, causing about 1,500 outages in the electricity provider's northern service area.

"We do want to remind any members who have not called in to report an outage and remain without power to do so," Raile said. "If they don't call, we have no idea whether or not they are living without electricity."

Raile said crews would be working today to restore service to any members without power.

Otter Tail Power appeared to finish its work, too, with power restored to most by Wednesday.

A hotline has been set up in Beltrami County to pair storm damage victims with people willing and able to help.

Call 333-8395 if you need help or can offer assistance, particularly those who own or can operate a chainsaw, have equipment to clear trees or are willing to provide manpower.

Those needing help should call the hotline and leave their name, a current contact phone number and the Beltrami County address where help is needed.

Bemidji plans to offer curbside pickup of storm damaged trees starting Monday.

Crews will not pick up stumps or root balls, and will not go on private property. There is no length requirement for branches or main trunks.

Residents should place storm debris they can safely move to the curb, but not on the street. Debris should be set out no later than 8 a.m. Monday. Once city crews have been through a neighborhood, they will not return.

Bemidji residents also have the option of hauling debris to a drop-off site.

On Friday, officials announced an extended schedule for the Rako Yard disposal site, west of Washington Avenue South on Rako Street.

Here are the hours:

E Today - 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

E Sunday - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

E Monday through Friday - Noon to 8 p.m.

The site will accept only tree limbs and branches, and those dropping off must present a driver's license or utility bill. The site, which will close July 14, is open only to city residents.

The site is not open to contractors. No root balls, construction or house debris will be accepted.

The Beltrami County compost site is open to county and city residents. The site, off of Lake Plantaganet Road Southeast west of U.S. Highway 71, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provided several tips Friday for property owners who have large amounts of debris left from storm-toppled trees and branches.

While removing storm damage, property owners are encouraged to watch for hanging branches or broken limbs that may fall, wear a hard hat and do not use a chainsaw to remove a tree unless you have experience using one.

As a guideline, a tree that loss less than 50 percent of its crown (branches and leaves) will likely recover. A tree sustaining more than 75 percent of its crown is likely to die - and faces a greater risk for insects and disease. Trees with structural loss to the main truck should be removed.

Officials suggest property owners avoid burning tree debris and consider alternatives like composting, chipping or hauling storm damage to one of the disposal sites. Those electing to burn debris should obtain the proper permit and follow it.

Bemidji city officials said Friday that numerous tree removal contractors arrived in the city to offer assistance. Property owners are encouraged to check whether a contractor or person offering to help for a fee is properly licensed.

The City of Bemidji requires a license for any person in the business of trimming or removal of trees within city limits.

In a news release, the city said the license "serves to protect residents by establishing that a contractor has adequate skill and equipment to provide the trimming and removal services, that the contractor has liability insurance coverage in place to cover its activities, and that as a condition of issuance of the license the contractor file a surety bond."

Property owners who are considering hiring a person or business to assist with trimming, cutting and/or removal and cleanup of storm damaged trees is asked to call the City Clerk's office at 759-3570 to check whether the business is licensed in Bemidji.

Volunteers are being sought to aid with cleaning up Bemidji's parks starting next week.

Organized work days at several neighborhood parks are planned.

The following work days and locations are set:

E Nymore and Otto Schmunk parks, 8 a.m. to noon, Tuesday. Check in at the new parking lot area near the tennis courts.

E Library and Paul Bunyan parks, 8 a.m. to noon, Thursday. Check in at the Jaycees Pavilion.

A news release said work will be primarily by hand and include brush and stick removal, raking and possibly some shoveling. All tools and materials will be provided. Volunteers should provide their own work gloves and clothing, eye protection and water.

To sign up for one or more work days, or for more information, contact Tina Hanke by phone at 308-3780 or email at tina.hanke@ci.bemidji.mn.us.

For those who are unable to help at the work days but want to contribute, Bemidji has a "Parks and Trails Endowment and Project Fund" at the Northwest Minnesota Foundation.

Donations will go toward tree planting in the parks, including Diamond Park, Nymore Park and other neighborhood parks.

Online donations can be made at www.nwmf.org or mailed to Northwest Minnesota Foundation-Bemidji Area Parks and Trails Endowment and Project Fund, Tree Replacement, 4225 Technology Drive NW, Bemidji, MN 56601.

The Parks Department plans to announce more work days in the coming weeks.

Residents are asked to avoid Diamond Point Park, which is closed until further notice. The city's Park and Recreation Department has cancelled or moved events previously scheduled in the park.

BEMIDJI - After a long week of restoring utility services and cleaning up storm debris and damage, recovery is taking shape after two violent thunderstorms storm walloped the region.

Bemidji officials announced hours for its tree debris disposal site, work days to clean up neighborhood parks and a reminder for property owners that contractors hired for tree removal must have a city-issued license to do the work.

Meanwhile, Beltrami Electric Cooperative restored power to nearly all of its members by Friday evening after an exhausting week that brought two rounds of outages from storms across the county.

Those storms - on Monday night and Wednesday afternoon - left about 9,900 customers without power this week.

Straight-line winds in excess of 80 mph toppled countless trees, downed hundreds of power lines and knocked out power to more than 8,400 households, including about 4,400 Otter Tail Power customers and nearly 4,100 Beltrami Electric members, in the July 2 storm.

It affected about 200,000 acres of forests, including the Chippewa National Forest, in an area about 15 miles wide and 70 miles long along the U.S. Highway 2 corridor. About 15,000 acres sustaining moderate to heavy timber damage, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

At about 1 p.m. Wednesday, another storm, with 60-mph straight-line winds, hit Bemidji's western edge and extended north toward Washkish, Kelliher, Blackduck and Turtle River. Beltrami Electric, which had help from other utility cooperatives, said about 1,500 customers lost power during the storm.

As residents clear their properties, Beltrami County officials urge them to document all damages, including time and money spent on recovery. Property owners should take photos, keep logs of time and expenses, and inventory damage.

The information will aid property owners dealing with insurance claims, and could prove beneficial if Bemidji and Beltrami County apply for a disaster declaration, a necessary step to secure provides relief money for recovery.

By 5:45 p.m. Friday, Beltrami Electric said 21 members remained without power.

"We are really close to the finish line and should be done tonight, with maybe a few remaining for tomorrow morning," Mitch Raile, a spokesman for Beltrami Electric, said in a news release this morning.

The cooperative started Friday with more than 500 customers powerless.

The July 2 storm knocked power out to nearly 4,100 members in the Bemidji area, and while crews worked to bring those people back online, a Fourth of July storm swept to the north, causing about 1,500 outages in the electricity provider's northern service area.

"We do want to remind any members who have not called in to report an outage and remain without power to do so," Raile said. "If they don't call, we have no idea whether or not they are living without electricity."

Raile said crews would be working today to restore service to any members without power.

Otter Tail Power appeared to finish its work, too, with power restored to most by Wednesday.

A hotline has been set up in Beltrami County to pair storm damage victims with people willing and able to help.

Call 333-8395 if you need help or can offer assistance, particularly those who own or can operate a chainsaw, have equipment to clear trees or are willing to provide manpower.

Those needing help should call the hotline and leave their name, a current contact phone number and the Beltrami County address where help is needed.

Bemidji plans to offer curbside pickup of storm damaged trees starting Monday.

Crews will not pick up stumps or root balls, and will not go on private property. There is no length requirement for branches or main trunks.

Residents should place storm debris they can safely move to the curb, but not on the street. Debris should be set out no later than 8 a.m. Monday. Once city crews have been through a neighborhood, they will not return.

Bemidji residents also have the option of hauling debris to a drop-off site.

On Friday, officials announced an extended schedule for the Rako Yard disposal site, west of Washington Avenue South on Rako Street.

Here are the hours:

- Today - 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

- Sunday - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

- Monday through Friday - Noon to 8 p.m.

The site will accept only tree limbs and branches, and those dropping off must present a driver's license or utility bill. The site, which will close July 14, is open only to city residents.

The site is not open to contractors. No root balls, construction or house debris will be accepted.

The Beltrami County compost site is open to county and city residents. The site, off of Lake Plantaganet Road Southeast west of U.S. Highway 71, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources provided several tips Friday for property owners who have large amounts of debris left from storm-toppled trees and branches.

While removing storm damage, property owners are encouraged to watch for hanging branches or broken limbs that may fall, wear a hard hat and do not use a chainsaw to remove a tree unless you have experience using one.

As a guideline, a tree that loss less than 50 percent of its crown (branches and leaves) will likely recover. A tree sustaining more than 75 percent of its crown is likely to die - and faces a greater risk for insects and disease. Trees with structural loss to the main truck should be removed.

Officials suggest property owners avoid burning tree debris and consider alternatives like composting, chipping or hauling storm damage to one of the disposal sites. Those electing to burn debris should obtain the proper permit and follow it.

Bemidji city officials said Friday that numerous tree removal contractors arrived in the city to offer assistance. Property owners are encouraged to check whether a contractor or person offering to help for a fee is properly licensed.

The City of Bemidji requires a license for any person in the business of trimming or removal of trees within city limits.

In a news release, the city said the license "serves to protect residents by establishing that a contractor has adequate skill and equipment to provide the trimming and removal services, that the contractor has liability insurance coverage in place to cover its activities, and that as a condition of issuance of the license the contractor file a surety bond."

Property owners who are considering hiring a person or business to assist with trimming, cutting and/or removal and cleanup of storm damaged trees is asked to call the City Clerk's office at 759-3570 to check whether the business is licensed in Bemidji.

Volunteers are being sought to aid with cleaning up Bemidji's parks starting next week.

Organized work days at several neighborhood parks are planned.

The following work days and locations are set:

- Nymore and Otto Schmunk parks, 8 a.m. to noon, Tuesday. Check in at the new parking lot area near the tennis courts.

- Library and Paul Bunyan parks, 8 a.m. to noon, Thursday. Check in at the Jaycees Pavilion.

A news release said work will be primarily by hand and include brush and stick removal, raking and possibly some shoveling. All tools and materials will be provided. Volunteers should provide their own work gloves and clothing, eye protection and water.

To sign up for one or more work days, or for more information, contact Tina Hanke by phone at 308-3780 or email at tina.hanke@ci.bemidji.mn.us.

For those who are unable to help at the work days but want to contribute, Bemidji has a "Parks and Trails Endowment and Project Fund" at the Northwest Minnesota Foundation.

Donations will go toward tree planting in the parks, including Diamond Park, Nymore Park and other neighborhood parks.

Online donations can be made at www.nwmf.org or mailed to Northwest Minnesota Foundation-Bemidji Area Parks and Trails Endowment and Project Fund, Tree Replacement, 4225 Technology Drive NW, Bemidji, MN 56601.

The Parks Department plans to announce more work days in the coming weeks.

Residents are asked to avoid Diamond Point Park, which is closed until further notice. The city's Park and Recreation Department has cancelled or moved events previously scheduled in the park.

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Steve Wagner
Grand Forks Herald Editor Steve Wagner can be reached at 701.780.1104 and swagner@gfherald.com. He joined the Herald in April 2013, and previously worked as editor at the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer and in several newsroom roles -- including news director, investigative reporter and cops/court reporter - at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. His experience includes extensive reporting related to Dru Sjodin's disappearance and the federal death penalty case for her murderer, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., along with projects about immigration, the fatal 2002 train derailment in Minot, N.D., and the 20th anniversary of Gordon Kahl's massacre of U.S. marshals. Wagner also worked as a reporter at newspapers in the Twin Cities and Iowa. In his spare time, Wagner is an avid runner and occasionally writes about his experiences on his blog, Addicted to Running.
(701) 780-1104
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