GRANITE FALLS, Minn. — The Yellow Medicine East School District is coping with hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage from a weekend storm, but is committed to being ready for the upcoming school year.
“This is going to make it more difficult,” Superintendent Rich Schneider said of the challenges posed by the damage from the Saturday, Aug. 8, storm. “We have to be ready to pivot, and be flexible here,” he said.
Straight-line winds estimated at 70 miles per hour ripped apart the roofs over the school’s 1930s auditorium/gymnasium building as well as the middle school/high school building in Granite Falls, Minn. The entire membrane over the auditorium was pulled away, Schneider said. The winds tore off the heating and ventilation systems on the roofs, opening the duct work to the rain. Water poured through the ventilation system and directly into classrooms, hallways and on equipment.
A crew worked late into the night Saturday following the storm to place a temporary roof over the damage. School workers and volunteers worked through the weekend to mop up water and remove damaged computers and equipment.
A building restoration company will help the school assess the damage, Schneider said. He said the school will also be getting a contractor on board as quickly as possible for repair work. It’s not known yet how much structural damage might have been incurred, he said.
Yellow Medicine East School Board members met Monday night, Aug. 10, to deal with the storm damage, as well as finalize plans for the start of the school year.
Schneider said the school has a solid plan in place for the start of the school year and believes it can stay on track. The school will adjust as necessary and be ready for the start. “We can’t give up on it,” he said.
The Saturday storm rolled through Yellow Medicine County like a freight train on a track from Canby to Clarkfield to Granite Falls, toppling hundreds of trees and damaging some buildings in all three communities and farm places in-between.
The city of Granite Falls declared a state of emergency Monday.
Granite Falls City Manager Crystal Johnson said the city’s public works crew estimates there is two to three weeks of cleanup ahead removing all of the fallen trees and limbs piled along streets. Yellow Medicine County and the city of Montevideo provided staff and equipment to assist the city with the cleanup, and Chippewa County was planning to send assistance as well.
The most significant structural damage was that which occurred to the school, although there were also reports of tree limbs on the roofs of houses and garages in many areas of the community. Overall, Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski said it was amazing that more structural damage did not occur.