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Storm causes major damage at YME

School building loses part of roof, while Granite Falls and area towns work to clean up

Photo courtesy of Yellow Medicine East School This photo shows the extent of the damage done to the Yellow Medicine East middle/high school during Saturday’s storms. The roof membrane over the school auditorium was torn off, along with part of the HVAC system.

GRANITE FALLS — Powerful storms caused a lot of damage in parts of southwest Minnesota on Saturday. Communities in the Marshall area reported downed trees, power outages, and even some more extreme damage. In Granite Falls, winds tore the roofing membrane and ventilation system off part of the Yellow Medicine East middle school/high school building.

“We are still assessing the extent of the damage,” YME Superintendent Rich Schneider said Monday. He said the school district doesn’t yet have an estimate of the cost to repair the roof and water damage to the school, but he expected it to be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The community of Granite Falls was also in the middle of cleanup efforts on Monday. While streets were cleared and electricity had been restored to nearly all residents, “We anticipate we’re going to have cleanup for a good two to three weeks,” said Granite Falls City Administrator Crystal Johnson. The Granite Falls City Council met on Monday to declare a state of emergency, Johnson said.

Residents in other area communities also reported damage. Hanley Falls residents posted photos on social media of fallen trees and damage to power lines and roofs. On Sunday, the city of Clarkfield issued a boil-water advisory for residents, after a power outage led to a loss of pressure in the city water system. While water pressure was restored within 30 minutes, there was an increased chance that the city water could be contaminated, the city’s order said.

Storms that swept across Minnesota on Saturday afternoon brought rain and high winds to the Marshall area, according to the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. Gusts of 72 miles per hour were reported at the Canby airport, and gusts of 50 to 55 miles per hour were reported in Marshall.

At YME, the entire roof membrane over the school auditorium was torn off, as well as a cupola housing the building’s ventilation system, Schneider said. Rain was able to flow directly into the auditorium, and then into other parts of the school, he said. The media center also received extensive damage.

“The majority of the damage is water-related because as the water entered the upper floors, it also trickled down into the lower floors doing substantial damage,” Schneider said.

The YME School District is working with a restoration company to help assess the damage.

“With the age of the building and previous renovations, the extent of the damage is harder to determine,” Scheider said.

Johnson said cleanup in Granite Falls began right away over the weekend. The Granite Falls public works department started clearing streets to make room for emergency crews, and electrical crews began assessing damage to power lines. Workers from communities including Olivia, Marshall, Benson and Montevideo have all arrived to help with the response efforts.

“We’re thankful they were willing to step up and help us in our time of need,” Johnson said.

Johnson said a lot of the damage in Granite Falls included fallen trees and branches, as well as some damage to homes and buildings. There was some minor damage to the Kilowatt Community Center’s roof, but not to other city-owned buildings, Johnson said.

Johnson said there’s a lot more that remains to be done in Granite Falls, but crews from the city and surrounding communities would continue to clean up. She said residents with trees or branches to be removed should put them on the boulevard or by an alley for pickup.

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