Oft-serene lakes country disheveled after weather
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Marilyn Pfau travels to Pelican Lake from California every summer to relax in Minnesota's serene lakes country.
But Wednesday's rough weather reminded her too much of her West Coast home.
"It looked like the ocean," she said, reporting that waves were 5 or 6 feet high. "I've never seen anything like this."
Sheets of rain and high winds rocked lakes country Wednesday night, smashing the shoreline, flipping boats, twisting docks and snapping shoreline trees in half.
And yet, Pfau is feeling lucky.
The 78-year-old was alone when wind gusts started whipping outside and her electricity died.
"It was quiet," she said.
But by Thursday morning, she was surrounded by her lake cabin neighbors and the roar of chainsaws.
Both of her neighbors had trees
collapse on their roofs. Her house was untouched.
"I feel kind of guilty I wasn't hit," she said as she watched workers flip over nearby cabin owner Eric Birkeland's submerged pontoon boat that was crumpled against his neighbor's shore.
"I was pretty surprised to see all my stuff move from my front yard to his front yard," said Birkeland, 69, of the Twin Cities. He said he's had the cabin all his life and "we've never had anything like this (storm)."
Not much of the north shore of Pelican Lake - located about eight miles north of Pelican Rapids - was unscathed.
Jim Peltier of the Pelican Lake Yacht Club estimated there were wind gusts up to 80 mph along Pelican Lake on Wednesday evening.
At Fair Hills Resort on Pelican Lake, workers were scrambling Thursday to haul away broken branches and nine downed trees before 300-some guests arrive for a wedding Saturday.
"I don't think the waves have ever been bigger," resort owner Beth Schupp said. "We're just happy it wasn't during the wedding."
But for businesses such as one owned by Todd Simison, the storm damage meant business as usual.
"We don't ever wish it happens. ... But of course, it's our business," said the owner of T.S. Dock and Lift and Recreational Salvage, based in Detroit Lakes.
As he surveyed Pelican Lake shoreline damage from a barge, Simison counted the tens of thousands of dollars in shoreline equipment residents lost. Simison said he had 200 orders and 30 totaled boats by 6 a.m. Thursday.
The business employed 40 wetsuit-clad workers using barges and forklifts to flip submerged boats and recover sunken docks.
Boats and docks can be fixed, said cabin owner Judy Kreyer, 67. But the ancient tree that collapsed on top of her roof won't be replaced before she sells her cabin and leaves the tranquil lakeshore behind.
"It's kind of sad to see," she said. "It's chain saw haven here."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515