July 21 windstorm has had lasting impact on the area
When a wicked windstorm hit the Ely area like a freight train on July 21 the impacts were devastating in some areas and minor in others. For the families of two people killed when a tree fell on their tent on Basswood Lake, the impact was the greatest.
This week we have an update on one of the boys in that Scout group who was injured and has had to undergo multiple surgeries. He may be over a thousand miles away but 16 year-old Alex Muller lives with the storm’s impact every day.
Apart from the tragedy on Basswood, miraculously there were no other major injuries sustained. Automobiles were crushed, holes were punctured in houses but no other loss of life was sustained despite the strength of the storm.
Here in Ely you can find visible damage but you have to know where to look for it. There are stumps sticking up in yards, some trees yet to be cut and fences being mended (literally). The signs that blew down were replaced, the softball dugout was rebuilt and the aluminum stands that landed in the Little League field were removed.
We’ve all been a bit antsy every time a storm has rolled in since that night. There have been trees near houses that have been removed so they won’t be able to fall in the next windstorm. Instead of sleeping through the thunder and lightning, we’re a bit less likely to ignore Mother Nature’s wrath.
There are areas still being cleaned up. Up the Cloquet Line the over 60 miles per hour straight line winds took a young forest and laid it on its side. Two months after the storm, the last mile of the Cloquet Line is yet to be cleared of downed trees.
The Forest Service has hired a contractor to finish the work started by volunteers with chainsaws. Heavy equipment has been brought in for what really is a tree removal instead of a logging operation. The twisted trunks will be shredded and used as biomass instead of being cut and transported decades from now to be made into lumber, paper and chipboard.
For those who have hunting shacks and cabins in areas damaged by the storm, their recreation and hunting activities have been forever changed. That may not be a reimbursable loss from an insurance company but it is a loss of enjoyment for the property owners.
Around Ely contractors continue to patch roofs and loggers work to salvage what they can of the massive white and red pines laying on the ground.
We will recover from this storm even if it takes years for the memories to fade away. Our thoughts are with the families of those most directly affected and with the young boy in Carrollton, Texas learning to walk again.
Man may believe he can change the world with his machines but Mother Nature can change the world with a strong breath of wind.