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Jaycees remember storm a year later

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BEMIDJI — It was only a matter of hours before the Jaycees Water Carnival was up and running again after the July 2 storm last year. One year later, they’re back — but with some new equipment. The storm, which produced straight-line winds in excess of 80 mph and knocked down thousands of trees in the area, also damaged the equipment and shelter at the Bemidji Jaycees Annual Water Carnival. The storm approached in the middle of Paul Bunyan’s 75th birthday celebration, said Michelle Gonzales, this year’s carnival chairwoman. Workers and attendees took shelter nearby. “Once the sirens started going off, we told people they needed to start exiting the tent because of all the metal piping and stuff down there,” Gonzales said Monday as she helped prepare for this year’s festival. “All of a sudden, it just hit fast.” A tree fell through that tent, Gonzales said, and a small tent that housed the bingo players was damaged. Another tree fell on the truck trailer that carries their equipment. “It was sad to watch everything just kind of blow away,” Gonzales said. They had to replace much of the main tent before this year’s carnival, as well as the Jaycees trailer and the bingo tent. But by the next morning, Gonzales and other carnival workers were back at the site, cleaning up and getting ready to launch again. “It was a lot of damage,” she said. “But we made it, and we’re back.” The storm had many impacts throughout the community, both short and long-term. It helped show public safety officials how much an emergency notification system was needed. And in November, Beltrami County launched CodeRED to alert residents by phone. The storm also showed how urgent a new backup power generator was at the Bemidji fire station. Meanwhile, the city will be looking to plant new trees to replace ones that were lost in parks across Bemidji. Diamond Point Park was closed for about two weeks after the storm because the 80 trees that fell there. City parks and recreation director Marcia Larson said last month that about 20 trees were replanted at Diamond Point last year, in addition to some at Nymore and Library parks. “Some of them have been replanted,” Larson said. “It’s not going to be a mass tree-planting because it’s too much to maintain. But we’ll continue to try and reforest our parks.”

John Hageman
John Hageman covers local business and Grand Forks' legislative delegation. Get more business news at 
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