Friday, July 17, 2015

Craguns July 13, 2015 storm damage photos part 2

Craguns beach path - N.Carlson - click to enlarge
Picnic area by beach cabins at Craguns - N. Carlson
Downed power lines at Craguns - N. Carlson
Hungry Gull Restaurant roof damage on right. - N. Carlson
Fallen trees on road to cabin at Craguns - N. Carlson
Outdoor pool and Hungry Gull restaurant - N. Carlson

Brainerd Area Severe Weather July 12, 2015 - Craguns Damage

Craguns storm damage photo taken am July 13, 2015 - N. Carlson- Click to enlarge
Just after 6:30 pm on July 12, 2015 a series of storm cells (4 unconfirmed tornadoes - thought to be straight line winds) passed through several Gull Lake Resorts near Baxter and Brainerd, Minnesota.  Our family stayed in the cabin on the left in this photo at Craguns.  We had the option of parking at the precise location of the downed tree but decided to park in an open grassy area.  The damage to the neighbors truck in the middle was minimal.  The tree limb penetrated the cabin roof allowing rainwater and insulation to cover their beds.  They pulled the driest mattress out of the bedroom and slept on the living room floor.

As of yesterday, no one was injured in the storm.  This may be due to a couple of factors.  The storm hit while people were having supper.  Weather alert apps on smart phones let people know about tornadoes.  I was looking at the radar image while we were eating and noted what appeared to be a hook echo on the radar.  One minute later, my cellphone and the building's weather alert system sounded an alarm.  The staff ushered us down to the designated shelter area in the lower part of the building.  It was a hallway with no windows to the outside.  Power to the building went out and people begin using the flashlight apps on the cellphones.  Craguns' emergency generators were damaged in the storm so we continued to be without power.

We were down there for over an hour as the severe weather passed.  Staff provided people with ice water and found a room with chairs for individuals who could not stand.  Two guitar players kept us entertained with songs.

Before darkness set in, we chose to travel back to our cabin through a maze of downed trees and power lines using the light from the flashlight app on the cell phones.  The road to the resort was blocked with multiple downed trees and power lines. Workers with chainsaws begin clearing the trees by the light from truck headlights.

Vehicles undamaged July 13, 2015 am. - N. Carlson
Two members of our family had fallen trees near their vehicles near downed power lines and we were not able to assess the damage until morning.  Damaged turned out to be minimal.  At the cabin the plumbing did not work and we were instructed not to flush the toilets.  We ended up using lake water to fill the tank in our toilets. We went to sleep listening to the sound of chainsaws.  Later in the evening we listened to the bullfrogs croaking in the nearby wetland.

Damage to a deck down the beach from our cabin - N. Carlson
The following morning we surveyed the damage to the resort. Damage to the buildings on the property turned out to be less than expected. Many cars were damaged including some late model Ford vehicles.  We drank bottled water and minimized the number of times we opened the refrigerator.

Downed trees at the top of a hill near the Hungry Gull Restaurant - N. Carlson
Craguns gave guests evacuation orders as they had no electricity and no working plumbing.  The grounds were also covered with debris, partially downed trees and power lines on the ground.

Main road into Craguns - The road on the left was blocked by downed power lines

We left before noon driving on a narrow pathway of freshly cut trees.  The final part of our road was blocked with power lines so we drove on grass for less than 50 feet before exiting on the main road out of the resort.  We hope to come back after they complete repairs.  According to the owner, Dutch Cragun, this is the first tornado that they have experienced in 74 years.

Lessons learned:
  1. Keep smart phones charged and with you during potential severe weather.  I used both my work and personal phone for flashlights and to keep track of the weather.
  2. Keep ice packs in the freezer for use later in portable coolers. 
  3. Keep bottled water on hand for drinking and hygiene. 
  4. If possible, avoid parking close to trees during a severe weather event. 
  5. Take shelter away from windows in a storm. 
  6. Heed evacuation orders to allow repairs to be completed safely and efficiently.

Video from a 1991 Gull Lake tornado-  This illustrates why you stay away from windows.