Trailers flipped over, sheet metal in trees: Ridgeway cleans up from overnight storms | Weather

RIDGEWAY, Iowa (KWWL) — Many in and around Ridgeway spent Wednesday picking up the damage after a line of strong to severe storms moved through the area overnight. It brought with it heavy wind, rain and hail.

Dalton Zidlicky said the storm lasted 10 to 15 minutes and sounded like a freight train.

“I was up in my room, and it sounded loud when the rain started coming down,” he said. “I was looking out my window, and I saw lightning and the barn down.”

According to the Winneshiek County Emergency Management office, most of the damage is within a roughly 4-6 mile radius in and around the city of Ridgeway.

A few minutes after the storm blew through, Zidlicky and his family, who live on a farm just outside the city, grabbed flashlights and walked outside to see the damage.

On the family’s property, the storm destroyed a building that they used to wash cattle, tore off part of the roof of a barn that houses cattle and flipped over a 7,000-pound cattle trailer.

“It was thrown around,” Dalton said. “Nobody around here has ever seen a trailer flipped over like that. There are no skid marks and no mud, so it just got picked up and flipped over.”

All of the calves are okay, accounted for and doing well after the storm.

“They’re running around, eating and drinking,” Dalton said.

Dalton and his family planned on taking their cattle to a show this weekend, but with the trailer getting tipped over and the facility used to wash the cattle destroyed, they are no longer able to.

“Coming into the hot months when we put them under fans, we don’t have the facilities anymore,” he said. “It is really going to affect showing how we grow here and all that daily care.”

Initial surveys found most of the damage is from the wind. As of Wednesday afternoon, authorities did not have any specific numbers in terms of the wind speeds in the area.

The Storm Track 7 Weather Team’s closest wind report is 62 miles per hour in nearby Bluffton, about 10 miles north of Ridgeway.

To get a sense of the strength of the wind in Ridgeway, you just need to take a look at the trees around Art Swestka rents out. They are littered with sheet metal.

The high winds sent the machine shed behind the house flying into the house. Pieces of it ended up about a quarter-mile down the road.

“You hear about it, but you never expected it to be your shed,” he said. “That is where the big shock comes in.”

By mid-morning, Swestka had a crew of friends and volunteers helping him clean up the debris from the shed. He said he plans to bury the pieces of it.

On Wednesday morning, Winneshiek County Emergency Management staff traveled around the Ridgeway and the surrounding area to document and assess the damage. They will send pictures to the National Weather Service in La Crosse to help them determine what kind of wind event the county experienced.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for several counties affected by Tuesday night’s storms, including Winneshiek.

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