Camp Ripley buildings, solar array damaged by strong storms

Image 1 of 4

PHOTO: SSG Anthony Housey, MN National Guard | Camp Ripley received damage to multiple buildings including parts of the 60 acre solar field, built in cooperation with Minnesota Power, during a storm Sept. 7, 2016.

Strong storms rolled through Morrison County Wednesday night and caused significant storm damage to the Minnesota National Guard’s Camp Ripley Training Center.

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-1 tornado touched down at approximately 10:34 p.m. Winds reached somewhere around 90 MPH. NWS says damage includes: uprooted trees, overturned boats and roofs taken off two apartment-style buildings.

The Minnesota National Guard says no one was injured, but several buildings that are used for housing, training and maintenance received major damage.

“We were extremely fortunate, all our people are safe,” said Col. Scott St. Sauver, Camp Ripley Garrison Commander.  “We can repair buildings and replace damaged equipment, but our people are irreplaceable.”

The storm also caused damage to Minnesota Power’s first solar power plant. The plant was almost finished. Minnesota Power says initial assessments indicate 25% of the 97 rows of solar panels sustained damage. The solar panels were crushed by a large storage container and other debris blown by high winds.

The completion date will be rescheduled for spring 2017, when it’s complete the solar power plant will be the largest on any National Guard base in the nation.