MARSHALL - Marshall resident Brad Johns and his camping party found themselves in, or at least very near, the eye of Monday's storm that ripped through Itasca State Park.
The storm reportedly carried with it straight-line winds of 60 to 80 mph, bending and snapping tree upon tree, hundreds in all.
No deaths or injuries were reported.
Johns, who had been at the park since the previous Saturday, said as soon as they heard trees snapping, they knew it was time to run.
"As we were running, the trees were falling," Johns said. "They were falling on campers; one huge one fell right to the side of us. Everything missed our camper, luckily. I can remember hearing trees snapping like toothpicks, and once we saw the first tree come down we were on foot."
Johns said he was able to roll up the awning on his camper just before the storm hit. A pair of women camping right next to them had just set their tents up a couple hours before the winds came blowing through.
"They had a whole week's vacation planned," Johns said. "But they said they were going back to the Cities."
Johns said the cleanup began almost immediately after the storm and that chainsaws could be heard buzzing until midnight Monday.
Johns was camping with his wife, Tricia, and Brandon, Danica and Alex Verkinderen, along with their two dogs that Danica and Brandon Verkinderen were able to grab as the party fled for shelter.
"We've never been in a storm like that where you're running for your life with trees falling behind you," Brad Johns said. "Some of the kids said they probably won't let me park the camper by another tree again."
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources worked throughout the week, removing trees from roads, campgrounds and trails.
Some of the park stayed open after the storm, and the parts of the park that did close down reopened Thursday to all visitors.
Brad Johns said before leaving, he and Brandon Verkinderen helped with some of the cleanup afterward by hauling trees off park roads so people could get to the highway.