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A Summer Storm

July of 1999 was a tough month out west for Bill. In mid July while Bill was away, a day in Valley County dawned clear and hot. By afternoon the windless dayís temperatures were in the 90ís. Storm clouds began appearing on the far south horizon. As the afternoon progressed the clouds grew higher as they advanced north. By early evening the sun was blocked out by storm clouds seemingly from another world. The hot air was quiet, as the sky darkened and the coming storm rapidly advanced. Within minutes sustained 100 plus mph winds raced across northern Valley County causing widespread damage.

The winds tore at the landscape as they approached Opheim, located atop the highest ground in the region, debris flew everywhere, past Opheim to the immediate north a broad valley opens for perhaps 15 miles before high ground again rises in Canada. In the middle of the valley is the plateau where Bill's property lies, the winds raced across the valley before striking the high hills.

Afterwards a little house and a little barn - old homesteader buildings which had been moved up there the previous summer were gone. Debris were scattered down the hill and across fields. Some of Billís drawing paper was found miles away. Surprisingly only one chicken died and only one cat and a goat were slightly injured as the little barn they would have taken shelter in was blown away.

Bill arrived the next afternoon in Glasgow by train from Saint Paul, from here he drove the sixty miles north to set about rebuilding. Though the Little Town on the Prairie had also been badly damaged clean up and repairs were well underway. Before he needed to return to Saint Paul several days later the little barn was rebuilt. While away in Saint Paul this time, more bad news came to him, a small crop-dusting plane had crashed into the ridge. The pilot died in the fiery crash.

Two weeks later, while Bill was there, there was another fire, this one destroyed the new little barn and the remaining buildings. Now all that remained up there was the broken down picket fence, a large stack of fire wood, his wood stove, various tools, a few salvaged furnishings, his clothes, and some animals likely wondering what was going onÖ

Every other week, beginning in August Bill rebuilt the place, quite sturdy this time. In October with the first seasonís snow squalls coming in the window openings he laid old planks for the floors, In November during Indian Summer he roofed the four rebuilt buildings, through Decemberís cold he slept in his old truck each night. He moved into the new little house on New Years Eve 1999.

 

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