Home Trekin' To Dillon, MT Dillon, MT Livingston, MT On to Medora, ND Medora, ND Medora Musical Around Medora & Park On to Mandan, ND Mandan The STORM Travel Diary 2015
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Lane’s  Roadhouse Mandan - The STORM
Friday – June 19 The campground was full this beginning-of-the-weekend evening.  Lots of families, lots of young children running about, riding bikes, on the playground, just generally having a great time.  Barbeques & campfires are lazily smoking.  The playground is busy with laughing young ones.  Oops!  Here come the hordes of mosquitos.  By 8 pm everyone is indoors.  The sun is behind the hills, but it is still light outside.  Sue, Heyden, Gary & I have just finished dinner.  The four of us prepare to play a table game inside and Heyden is just taking her first licks of a lemonade popsicle.  All of a sudden the rather warm evening unleashes nature’s violence.  Very high winds (clocked at the nearby airport at 82 mph), a downpour of rain so heavy we couldn’t see our neighboring campers as debris begins hitting the coach.  Gary quickly pulled in the slides.  Our awnings were already rolled up.  Something heavy rammed into the roof where it meets the side of the coach and Gary & Sue watched the ceiling begin to descend & then go back into place.  We quietly huddled in what we thought were the safest spots inside & waited for what was to come next.  The power went out.  Heyden’s popsicle lay forgotten in the trash, the game pieces scattered over the dinette.  We would occasionally speak, but for the most part, individually we were thinking of safer spots to be in and when was this gonna end!  During this frightening time, we noticed the coach shudder softly and a few seconds later it happened again.  We think it was a small tornado wreaking destruction in the campground.  About 20 minutes later the intensity stopped and it rained mildly for a while.  Picking ourselves up, we raised a shade & looked to the other side of the park.  It was not quite dusk.  We could see some downed trees.  We cautiously opened the coach’s door.  The roadway in front of us was blocked by some downed, leaf-laden branches.  As we poked our heads out further the true havoc of the storm was revealed.  One space away, a tree with 2 large diameter branches crashed down on a small 4-door sedan and crushed the roof.  This family had arrived minutes before the storm.  We couldn’t see much beyond that due to encroaching darkness & BIG trees that were down in our view.  The very brave   North Dakota State Park rangers were quickly on scene, on foot, going from one campsite to the next ascertaining if everyone was safe & what damages had occurred.  Within minutes, they had chain saws buzzing to clear one road into the park so emergency crews could get in to rescue one injured camper.  No other injuries.  So hard to believe looking at the wreckage around us!  What we know of damages is: 5 pickups were heavily damage (2 totaled), 1 motorhome with severe awning damage-one ripped off damaging the body of the motorhome and another, rolled up, that was crushed into the body of the coach by a falling tree, a small travel trailer with 6 people inside was hit on one top end causing the other end to go airborne-while airborne a toppled tree fell under it and, as the trailer came to rest on top of it, the leafy top of another downed tree landed on top of it.  One very large tree took out the heavy-duty playground.  Sue’s rental trailer was undamaged.  Our damage consisted of a chunk of the plastic air-conditioner cover in one corner taken out and a dent in our folded- down satellite dish.  If that dish hadn’t been where it was we would have had a big hole in our roof.  The toll on animal life is unknown.  We saw several dead robins lying in the road.  The birds in the park have babes in their nests. They would not have survived.  Whether the baby deer survived is unknown.  Took a while to get over this.  I think I was operating in shock for a couple of days.  Never, ever been through anything even close to this.  Ah, the adventures of camping.
Just before disaster struck.  Notice the lean in the trees.  During the ‘event’ I was unable to even think of taking any pictures.  Our blinds were closed so if any projectiles thought of crashing through the windows the blinds might protect us a bit.
The next pictures were taken the next morning.  Due to downed trees we couldn’t travel around the campground at night.
Note the downed tree between the 5th wheel trailer & truck.  It missed the trailer, but damaged the front of the truck.
This car’s passenger roof was crushed by falling trees.  They were 2 camping sites from us.
This is the trailer written about in above story.  There were 6 people in this unit & no one was injured.  Miracles happen.
Another damaged travel trailer.  Couldn’t see the other side of the trailer due to downed tree covering it.
One of many downed trees.  So sad these beautiful giants downed in just a few minutes.
We asked if we could assist as this young man used a chain saw to get this tree out of his truck.  His response, “I’m fine.  My children are safe, my wife is safe & my dog is safe.  That’s all that matters.  I can handle this.”  He also told us he had bought this brand new truck 3 weeks before.  He sure had his priorities straight.
This truck is probably totaled after having a very large tree crash down on the bed and bending one side towards the ground.  Once again, the 5th wheel trailer escaped damage.
Our coach remains OK.  The road was cleared last night with chain saws, tractor buckets picking up the sawed pieces & lifting the pieces into dump trucks.  The dump trucks hauled the ‘firewood’ away.  Workers came by later to rake up all the debris.
This is one branch that blew like a projectile through the air and hit the roof of the Roadhouse.  Doesn’t look like much, but the broken end is what hit us.  Compare it to our picnic table which is oversized.
This video represents just a tiny portion of the time it took to free the car from the tree that fell on it.  The Ranger swinging the chain saw was most competent at her job. The tree she is sawing was lying across the back of the car until a tractor put it on the ground. We saw her tackle a number of trees.  The man in the red shirt is our camp host, who suffered damages to his motorhome’s slide, but was out there helping clear the debris from the storm.
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Mandan The STORM