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Major storm rips through Ripon leaving a mess in its wake

Posted at 7:57 PM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 20:57:03-04

RIPON, Wis. (NBC 26) -- Nearly 9,000 Ripon residents lost power on early Thursday morning after a powerful storm took out several powerlines. By Thursday afternoon the majority of the town took to their front and back yards to take care of the aftermath of the storm.

Few in the city of Ripon are used to encountering hurricane-strength winds, gusts of air that reach 70 to 80 miles per hour; that is until Thursday morning's storm hit.

"I decided it was time to take the dogs to the basement, in our old, waterlogged basement. But it was better than taking a chance upstairs in the house," says Jerri Bender describing her reaction to hearing the winds at around midnight on Thursday.

"It just seemed to be building up and building up, and I thought what the heck is going on," adds Cheryl O'Connell who heard the winds ripping early Thursday morning inside her home.

Jerri and Cheryl weren't the only ones in town who dealt with the brunt of the storm though. It appears as if few neighborhoods in Ripon came out of the storm unscathed, but most didn't know how bad it got until the storm settled.

"I came out here and I was looking at it, wondering, where do I start?" Cheryl says the job of cleaning up her downed branches looked daunting.

"I took a flashlight and shined it over here and saw trees down and looked out the windows and saw a little bit on the other side of the house too," adds Jerri describing the mess branches in front of her home.

City leaders say only a few homes were seriously damaged during the storm. Shocking news, considering by Thursday afternoon just about everyone in town had created a pile of debris on their curb to be hauled out.

"Everything lined up beside the house, instead of on the house. So yeah, very lucky," says Jerri.

And for many residents who started the day not knowing where they would even start, turns out living in Ripon has an unexpected perk other than the occasional tropical weather; many residents have some thoughtful neighbors.

"They (neighbors) came over and they did a lot of the major cutting for me. So, all I have to do is cut up those little parts and then wait for someone in my family to show up and cut the big stuff, haha," adds Cheryl.

Many Ripon residents still don't have power on Thursday. But city leaders say by Friday everyone should be able to turn on their fans, or air conditioners once again, and get some relief from their yard work and the hot weather.