Southern Beltrami Co. hit hard by storms 03 Jul 12

BEMIDJI, Minn. (AP) – Emergency managers say severe storms in southern Beltrami County have knocked down thousands of trees and caused extensive damage to utility lines.

County sheriff’s officials are urging residents not to travel because of the number of roads covered by trees entangled with power lines. Thousands of customers are without power in and around Bemidji (beh-MIJ’-ee).

The county’s emergency management assistant director, Christopher Muller, says utility crews are working on more than 100 spots where power lines are down and it may take well over 24 hours to restore service.

Muller says outdoor warning sirens were sounded in Bemidji about 6:30 p.m. Monday. Several citizens reported seeing a funnel cloud southwest of Bemidji. But, trained weather spotters and the National Weather Service did not confirm any tornadic activity. No one has been injured.