At about 1:15 a.m., Wednesday, Tressa Geschwill of Pillsbury woke up. Lightning was dancing across the sky intensively, which made it hard to sleep. The area had also lost power.
Once she walked downstairs, she noticed how windy it was outside. Not sure about it, she returned to the bedroom upstairs to tell her husband, Jesse, about it, Tressa said.
But just as he was about to check the radar on her cellphone, the air conditioning unit in their bedroom window was pushed in.
“It just flew through the window and bounced off the bed. It just blew right in,” Jesse said.
Tressa closed the window, but the turmoil had only begun.
“The whole house started shaking and I heard like a freight train sound. Jesse just grabbed me and told me to get down. I thought that was it,” Tressa said.
The Geschwills have three children: Owen, 14, Chloe, 8, and Grant, 6. Afraid for their safety, they woke them.
When the family reached the main level, they noticed that the glass in their windows were broken. Jesse and Tressa said it had happened so fast that they hadn’t even had time to reach the basement by the time it was over.
“The kids were so scared,” Tressa said.
Owen’s room also sustained water damage as part of the roof opened up, Tressa said.
Afterward, the Geschwills walked outside to make sure that everybody else in their neighborhood was OK. Thankfully, no one had been injured in what she said was a tornado, Tressa said.
Experiencing the power of the wind was a horror to Pillsbury residents, Howard and Cheryl Hedin.
“We went to sleep at about 11 p.m. and two hours later, we heard this awful noise, like a boom,” Cheryl said.
The couple arose and started to look around, only to discover that the power was out. Once they found a flashlight, they noticed that all their windows and exits were blocked with fallen trees.
“It was very, very scary,” Cheryl said.
Lonnie and Michelle Hutchins’ two-bed room house didn’t fare well, either.
The glass in the windows were broken, a section of the roof was torn off and landed across the county road in a neighbors’ yard and the house shifted from its foundation, Michelle said.
Since the Hutchins were in the process of remodeling their house, they weren’t staying there with their three small children when the storm went through.
“We’re very fortunate that we weren’t there when it happened,” Michelle said.
When daylight arrived, the damage the winds did was even more evident. The roads were blocked with trees and power lines were down.
The Geschwills also noticed that their dock at Pillsbury Lake near their house had been thrown about 50 feet into lake, upside down.
“There was also a paddle boat in a tree and a kayak that was bent around a tree,” Tressa said.
A nearby neighbor’s shed was crushed and looked only like a piece of metal. It is unrecognizable for what it once was.
Just a few feet away, Jeremy Gondringer looked at his uncle’s camper. It was flattened by trees that fell on top.
The Hutchins found their boat laying upside down in the water. The boat cover was found hanging in a tall tree that had been stripped.
By early evening, the residents living north of County Road 12 had their power restored, but those living on 37th Avenue (Beach Road) were still waiting.
Jesse and Sara Moulzolf of Albany received a call in the morning from one of their neighbors about what had happened overnight. Their summer cabin had not been spared.
A tree fell on their cabin, which resulted in a broken deck and holes in the roof. The nearby shed became the resting place of one of the trees, as well.
Jack McCoy of Long Prairie found that a tree had fallen onto a house he owns on Beach Road and that the garage had been crushed in the process.
“It’s not good,” he said.
Even though the residents and property owners of Pillsbury are relieved no one was injured, more than material items were destroyed. Their way of life and solitude were uprooted, Cheryl said.
“I took a lot of pride in my yard. I picked up every stick and trimmed around everything. It was perfect,” she said.
Earlier that day she had mowed and had admired her yard with its blooming flowers.
“Now it will never look the same again,” Cheryl said.
To the north, the Hedins also had a row of pine trees that created a privacy fence between them and their
neighbor. But the pine trees had been broken off.
The Moulzolfs really enjoyed the privacy and shade their trees gave them. Now, the landscape lays open and the privacy is gone, Sara said.
Cleanup started early Tuesday morning. People from nearby communities stopped to help in any way they could.
“It’s going to take a while to get it all cleaned up,” Jesse Geschwill said.
Victoria Ingram, emergency manager for Morrison County said as of now, the damage done in western Morrison County has been determined to be caused by 70-mile per hour straight-line winds. However, she said the National Weather Service (NWS) is conducting a damage survey and storm assessment, and will determine whether any rotation occurred, or evidence of a tornado exists. If evidence of a tornado is found, the NWS will rate it from E1 to E5.