By Julie Ann Madden
“You need help?” was heard around town Sunday afternoon after a severe thunderstorm hit Akron about 3:00 p.m.
By 5 p.m., people who had cleaned up their own tree debris or had none were out seeking to help others.
The storm came from the south making a swath through Portlandville Heights along the eastern edge of the Akron Golf Course, traveling down Country Club Drive and crossing Iowa Highway 3/South Street and doing the most damage from Fourth Street east to the edge of Akron and from South Street north to between Main and Dakota Streets.
Most homes just had tree branches down. However, the residence of Dr. Brad and Sara Britton lost a deck pillar support, which also ruined some patio furniture.
Some residents’ dog kennels were overturned in their yards as well as outdoor furniture and toys were destroyed.
The hardest hit area was between Sixth and Eighth Streets from South Street to Sargent Street from what The Akron Hometowner found.
“I just can’t believe it,” said Virginia Hartmann, who lives at the corner of Sixth and South Streets.
She’d been watching the NASCAR race on television, figuring the storm had missed Akron since the station she was watching reported the warning had ended. Therefore, she was on the main floor of her home when the storm hit.
In addition to many tree branches littering her yard, a large evergreen tree was uprooted and fell to the north in her backyard.
Another evergreen fell on the house of Penny Hartmann — her backyard is kiddie-corner northeast of Virginia’s.
To the east of Virginia’s home, the Matt and Beth Bohr residence, 651 S. Seventh St., had a tree fall on their deck.
One block farther east, the Josh and Michele Rozell residence, 620 S. Eighth St., had a tree fell on it.
“It started sprinkling, and the next thing we knew was this,” said Josh Rozell, who spoke to The Akron Hometowner as several people stopped to look and offer help.
“I heard the wind pick up and it was just white with rain,” he said, adding he sent his wife to the basement with their 2-year-old son.
“It broke the rafters (on the southwest corner of the house),” said Rozell. “It’s not that bad but not good…it tore the soffit, siding and damaged some windows.”
When the tree fell, it landed on a tree just to the east of it, which probably saved the house from more damage, he said. The second tree is also broken off.
“I was putting in a new shower door,” he said, laughing. “I got that project done but now I have a new one. “I can’t keep ahead of the projects.”
Akron firefighters told me our damage was the worst, said Rozell.
Several other storms
This latest storm was just one of several to hit the area since Mother’s Day, which was May 11.
At about 7:36 p.m., the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, S.D., reported two tornadoes in the Spink, S.D. area that day. They were rated as EF Zero tornadoes.
Ron and Joyce Dreeszen were visiting the landowner of the farm when one of the tornadoes hit that evening.
“It just exploded the machine shed,” Ron said. “The 50’ x 100’ building was gone and pieces of equipment were damaged.”
“We had steel (from the building) spread over one-half mile,” said Ron. “We’re pretty well cleaned up now.”
“It happens really quick but takes a long time to clean up,” he said.
Nearby, Doug and Jamie Heeren had quite a bit of damage, too.
“It flattened our cattle shed, shoved our barn off its foundation, broke off the granary doors and ripped shingles off the house,” said Doug, adding Jamie and their son, Alec, were home at the time. “It could have been worse.”
On May 30, a tornado touched down at the Ken and Karla Less farms at 21601 and 22300 Fir Ave. in rural Merrill.
Again, the wind came from the south and twisted around and tore a portion of the north side of a hog confinement at 22300 Fir Ave and strewed pieces to the north and west for about a mile. The ceiling was still intact so the swine inside were fine, said Less.
The hog confinement was built in 2005 and the Less’ had never had anything like this happen to it.
At the farmstead, a couple of smaller buildings were damaged.
“It came in so quick we didn’t have time to get out of the way,” said Less’ grandson, 15-year-old Tristin Golden, who was in the house at the time.
On a good note, it was the first time in a long while that Akron had any decent amount of rain.
Karen Taylor-Mortensen received about .85 of an inch of rain during Sunday’s afternoon storm.