4/14/2017 7:29:00 AM Severe storm system blows through Minocqua area Cleanup efforts could take a month
Dean Hall/Lakeland Times
In addition to strong winds, heavy rain and lightning, several areas experienced hail during Sunday night’s storm across the Lakeland area.
Photo by Dean Hall/Lakeland Times
Minocqua police chief Dave Jaeger responds to a scene where a fallen tree has partially knocked down a light pole along State Highway 70 on Monday, April 10, in Minocqua.
The storm system that moved through portions of the Minocqua and Lakeland area late Sunday night and very early Monday morning didn't hurt anyone physically but it did cause hundreds of thousands of dollars - if not more - in damage.
High wind, rain and in several places, hail, were prevalent with the storm.
At 2 a.m. Monday, the Wisconsin Public Service website had Minocqua with more than 5,000 people without power, the most of the towns listed.
The next most numerous were Woodruff and Arbor Vitae with over 1,000 each.
Wisconsin Public Service crews, along with crews from companies WPS contracted with, began work Monday morning to restore power to those areas affected.
By Wednesday at noon, nearly everyone had power restored.
Matt Cullen, senior communications specialist for WPS, said Wednesday St. Germain was the largest area still affected, with one outage and 135 customers without power.
"Our crews were able to restore power to nearly all customers by late Tuesday night," Cullen said. "Crews found accessing multiple broken power poles and downed wires to be more difficult than they originally expected due to several downed trees."
Crews had to bring in specialized equipment in order to access the damage so they could restore power.
With the job pretty much complete, Cullen was thankful for the patience most WPS customers displayed.
"We sincerely appreciate the patience and understanding our customers have shown us as our crews worked as safely and as quickly as possible to restore power in very challenging weather conditions," Cullen said.
'There's going to be a lot of material'
Mark Pertile, Minocqua's public works director, was asking for the same type of patience from town residents affected by the storm.
He said Wednesday all town roads are open and passable but there's a lot of cleanup to do.
Pertile said the corridor of the storm in Minocqua went along the north and south sides of State Highway 70.
"The worst damage was to the western portion of that," Pertile said. "Franklin Lake and Arnold's Dock and in that area. The other section of town that got hit hard was off of Brunswick Road and Timberland Circle got hit pretty good. There were some sporadic trees down throughout the south part of town but really not too much."
In the aftermath of a storm like this, he said the main goal is to get all roads open, something that was done.
"That's the first priority," Pertile said. "For public safety and then the secondary roads after that. We prioritize based on if a road is a dead end or not or if residents can access their house a different way, that's probably not the most prioritized cut."
Monday, he said there were four members of the Minocqua town crew cutting up downed trees on Squirrel Lake Road and Franklin Lake Road all day.
"That was the worst area in town," Pertile said. "They were cutting people out just to get out of Squirrel because people had to get out each way."
Minocqua firefighters were called to a residence on Franklin Lake Road Monday morning on a call involving a propane tank.
Pertile said part of his crew's response is based on what calls come into the police department.
"They kind of guide us through where to cut and why," he said. "If it's an emergency service call, we'll respond and open up the road. Otherwise, we try to go where the worst damage is, get it opened and cleared up as soon as possible."
Wednesday morning, Pertile said Minocqua town employees were out cutting additional trees they knew of.
"We're going to prep our Kilawee burn site for the multitude of hauling we'll be doing in there," he said. "It'll be open for a couple of weeks for people to dump."
That hauling, Pertile said, was to begin yesterday and that was also when he said the focus, to begin with, would be the Franklin Lake Road and Squirrel Lake Road areas.
"We'll see how that goes," he said. "Then, we'll move accordingly from there."
Pertile said it'll take a month to clean everything up from the storm.
"It isn't going to disappear overnight," he said. "All the trees ... we're going to do our best to get it cleaned up as soon as possible. We've got our spring cleanup May 8 and people are going to start coming up here. There's going to be a lot of material out there."
The town announced Wednesday its compost site on Kilawee Road will be open every day beginning April 15 to May 6 for storm debris.
For more information regarding the town's burn pad and cleanup week, go to http://www.townofminocqua.org/departments.
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lakeland Times reporter Ben Gauger contributed to this story.