Severe thunderstorms knock out power, damage buildings

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Houses, apartment buildings and businesses were peeled open Sunday in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, the result of severe thunderstorms and high winds that tore through overnight.
A rural Coates man was in serious condition at Regions Hospital in St. Paul after winds hit his mobile home in Dakota County.
Jay Thesing, 30, and two children were in the home when it “was essentially blown away,” said Dakota County Sheriff Don Gudmundson.
Thesing was found semi-conscious about 200 feet away in a field. The children apparently weren’t hurt.
In the St. Paul suburb of Woodbury, at least 40 homes were seriously damaged, and another 40 sustained less damage, said Barry Johnson, city administrator. About eight people were treated at hospitals for minor injuries.
About 144,000 customers were without power Sunday, down from a high of 294,000, said Northern States Power Co. spokesman Paul Adelmann.
It could be several days before power is fully restored, he said.
Two small apartment buildings in South St. Paul had their roofs ripped off, and one person may have been hospitalized, said Jennifer Freeman, a volunteer with the Red Cross in St. Paul.
Merle Green and her dog hid beneath a closet shelf as the storm hit her house in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul. Winds ripped off her roof.
“I thought, I’m gonna die; I really am gonna die,” Green told WCCO-TV in Minneapolis.
“This (the house) was my pride and joy, so it’s really tough. I’ll just have to start all over,” she said.
In Shakopee, about 20 miles southwest of Minneapolis, a Union Pacific train was blown off the tracks. And a 69,000-volt transmission line south of Shakopee collapsed, including up to a dozen power line towers, forcing closure of about a mile of Highway 169, Adelmann said.
The city of Burnsville declared an emergency, as major damage was reported to businesses and homes. At least 600 trees were damaged, city officials said. The Burlington Coat Factory lost part of its roof, and a broken water main flooded it inside.
Four people were taken to the hospital in Burnsville; no serious injuries were reported.
Gudmundson said it looked like thousands of trees were down in Dakota County, including Burnsville and Apple Valley.
“We’ve had three storms in 10 days come through,” he said. “I’m tired of it. And the lovely trees are tired of it, too. … It’s a sad sight.”
The city of Bloomington also declared an emergency because of serious damage.
Farther west in McLeod County, buildings, trees and power lines were reported damaged. Carver County also reported damage to between 50 and 90 buildings, trees and power lines.
In central Minnesota, the National Weather Service reported hail up to 1.75 inches in Stearns, Lac Qui Parle, Kandiyohi and Benton counties.