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The Wadena-Deer Creek High School was directly in the storm's path. Photo by Brian Hansel/Wadena Pioneer Journal

Closed roads, power outages remain from tornadoes

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On June 17, Otter Tail County experienced a series of tornado touchdowns in an area 36 miles long and seven miles wide starting in the Parkers Prairie area, up through Bluffton, the northeast comer of the county and into Wadena County. The touchdowns occurred at approximately 4:00 p.m.

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There was one fatality, Margie Schulke, a 79 year old woman from Ahnora. Her home was destroyed and she was found across the road under debris with a severe head trauma.

Her husband was taken to Douglas County Hospital with injuries. Six other people received injuries. Approximately 45 homes have been damaged; at least six ofwhich are considered destroyed. Two turkey barns were destroyed.

There are power outages throughout the area resulting from downed power lines and damage to substations. Downed power lines should always be considered dangerous, and people should stay away. Crews from Lake Region Co-op Electric and Otter Tail Power Company are working to restore service. It is expected to be two to three days before service is restored to all areas.

There is substantial debris from damaged buildings and downed trees. The county is asking that people do not haul any debris at this time. The normal solid waste facilities are inadequate to receive the substantial amount of debris. Tree and building debris need to be separated. Arrangements are being made and there will be further announcements where to bring debris.

Several roads remain closed and are barricaded. The public is asked to stay away from the area. People going around barricades will be ticketed. Law enforcement is patrolling the area and gawkers will be removed. Those who need to be in the area should be aware that traffic signs are down and extreme caution is required.

Yesterday, area fire and rescue units and police departments helped search the area to determine that people were safe and had a place to stay. Those whose homes were damaged were mostly taken in by neighbors. Today, patrols continue, and the Red Cross and Public Health are visiting the damaged sites to render assistance. The State Homeland Security Department is coming to assist with damage assessment. Any individuals needing assistance in Otter Tail County should call 218-367-6367.

Anyone needing general information can call 218-367-6365. These lines will be open through 8:00 p.m. today.

Otter Tail County Emergency Management News agencies seeking additional information should call the Public Information Officer at 218-367-6369.

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