Only publicly owned properties damaged by Aug. 26 tornado events eligible for assistance.

    With it now confirmed by National Weather Service storm damage surveys that two EF-1 tornadoes were responsible for extensive damage when a severe weather system rolled through eastern Polk County on the night of Aug. 26, Polk County Emergency Management officials are now seeking financial assistance to help repair and rebuild.

    The tornadoes also were on the ground and caused damage in far northeastern Norman County and north-central Clearwater County, Jody Beauchane of PCEM tells the Times.

    Here’s Beauchane’s breakdown of each tornado and the damage caused:

    • Tornado #1 - first touched down near a farmstead 9 miles southwest of Winger. Numerous barns, sheds, and outbuildings were damaged, along with the loss of a portion of the roof from a farmhouse. The tornado caused periodic tree damage before encountering another farmstead 3.5 miles to the northeast. Numerous trees were snapped at this location, along with a destroyed outbuilding, grain bins rolled off of their foundation and tossed 100-200 yards, and roof damage to a farmhouse. Additional tree damage occurred before the tornado reached the city of Winger. Numerous houses within the city saw roof and siding damage, several grain bins were destroyed, and dozens of trees were uprooted or had trucks snapped. The tornado then tracked several more miles to the northeast before lifting 5 miles west-northwest of Fosston.

    • Tornado #2 - touched down north-northeast of Fosston, tracking northeast along County Road 3. South of Pine Lake, dozens of acres of sunflowers were badly damaged. Along the northeast shores of Pine Lake, several campers and pontoons were tossed or rolled, and several lakeside cabins had broken windows and badly damaged or partially removed roofs. Lakeside pontoons and boats were damaged, with one pontoon tossed about 100 yards onto the shore, and dozens of trees were snapped, uprooted, or otherwise damaged. Several miles northeast of Clearbrook, two farm outbuildings sustained major roof damage, and one house had a wooden stake driven into its steel roof. Throughout its northeast track, the tornado touched down intermittently, badly damaging, uprooting, or snapping over 200 trees.

    Asked about damage estimates, Beauchane says that the city of Winger has estimated that they incurred approximately $63,000 worth of damage to their city owned property from the tornado #1 event.  They had damage to their baseball field fence, backstop, signs, dugouts and bleachers.  They also reported damage to their fire hall, maintenance shed, well house, picnic shelter area.  Preliminary damage amounts submitted by area businesses totaled to around $845,000.  Some of those businesses reporting damage are Garden Valley, Wild Rice Electric, CHS Ag Services and Lukens Auto.

    Winger and Fosston were hit hardest, Beauchane said. A couple miles east of Fosston, a Verizon cell tower was toppled and destroyed.
Seeking assistance
    The Polk County Board of Commissioners this week passed a resolution seeking state disaster assistance. Next, PCEM will compile documentation from impacted properties in the county and communities to submit them to Gov. Mark Dayton’s office for consideration. If Dayton determines state disaster assistance is warranted, Beauchane explained, meetings will be held to begin the process of reimbursement.

    Beauchane noted that only publicly owned property is eligible for state disaster assistance, and added that for Polk County the damage dollar amount indicator is $58,144 to be eligible to receive state public assistance.  
    Times Assistant Editor Jess Bengtson contributed to this story.