Tuesday, July 17, 2018
A lineman from Steele-Waseca Cooperative works to restore electricity and replace power lines July 19 by the Kent Schmidt turkey operation north of Claremont. A severe thunderstorm roared into the area around 4:30 p.m., ripping off a portion of the roofs on both of his turkey barns. Schmidt was inside one of the barns at the time the storm hit, but was not injured.

Severe storm damages turkey barns

A severe thunderstorm rolled through the area July 19, damaging two large turkey barns near Claremont.

Kent Schmidt was doing chores in one of the barns at the time the storm hit around 4:30 p.m. As he was taking care of his turkeys, he became surrounded with nails ripping loose from the roof and other flying debris.

“I knew the roof was coming off and I went for the service room,” Schmidt said. 

The barns house 20,000 turkeys, which Schmidt had just brought in about two weeks ago. He said a few birds had perished during the storm, but “it was very minimal.” 

A pair of power poles snapped off just outside of the barns, leaving Schmidt without electricity. Crews from Steele-Waseca Cooperative were on the scene until about 9:30 p.m. restoring power and replacing the poles. 

“I knew it wasn’t going to be good,” Schmidt said. “I’m relieved that it wasn’t any worse.”

His mother, Darlene Schmidt of Owatonna, came to the scene a few hours later and had a difficult time with what she saw. “I’d like to throw up,” she said. “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. This is unbelievable.”

But Darlene took comfort in knowing things could have been much worse. “As long as he didn’t get hurt, that’s all that matters,” she said.

“It hurts worse when it’s your kid. He works and he works and he works,” she added.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for northern Dodge County just ahead of the storm hitting Schmidt’s barns. Dodge County emergency management director Matt Maas confirmed Friday that the storm damage was as a result of straight line winds and not a tornado as had been previously suspected.

Schmidt wasn’t surprised that no tornado was involved. “I didn’t see any classic signs of a tornado,” he said. “There was no train sound.”

He expects repairs will be made to the barns within a couple weeks. He has insurance to cover the losses. 

Schmidt is appreciative to all the people who stopped by to offer help in removing debris after the storm. “The kindest gesture goes a long way,” he said. 

Dealing with the weather can be a tricky situation. For Schmidt, he’s been dealing with it most of his life as a farmer. 

“I just work with Mother Nature,” he said. “I don’t try to understand her.”

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Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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