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Dundee businesses, village working on repairs after April 1 tornado

Oct 14, 2023

DUNDEE − Boarded-up windows, broken shingles and the detritus of fallen brick are the few signs that remain of the tornado that swept through Dundee a little over one month ago.

Repairs are already underway to repair the damage caused by the storm that touched down just west of the village before sweeping just north of Brewer Road and straight into the heart of Dundee's downtown district.

Earlier report:National Weather Service confirms tornado hit Dundee

"The response we had was incredible," Dundee Village Manager Mike Hoffmeister said. "We had multiple partners from around the state and county respond that day. And the community responded well. Luckily, no one was injured."

The National Weather Service put the strength of the tornado on the lowest level of its rating scale. The EF-0 twister reached peak wind speeds of 80 mph as it carved a 7.3-mile path from 11:03 to 11:08 a.m on April 1.

After pushing through downtown at Memorial Park, the tornado continued northeast before ending near the intersection of Dixon and Sullivan roads.

A large portion of the damage was caused when a large section of flat roof ripped off the top of Gerweck Real Estate and slammed into the rear of Cool Beanz Coffee.

"Their entire roof lifted off," said Sean McCllelan, co-owner of Cool Beanz with his wife, Tanya Whitaker. "I talked to one person who saw it flying through the air, but I'm not sure if she meant in one piece or not."

The roof struck a utility pole between the two buildings, knocking down both the pole and a heavy transformer. The pole snapped and the transformer punched a hole through the roof.

McClellan also owns the upstairs offices above the coffee shop, which houses the Independent, a weekly newspaper serving Dundee, Ida, Petersburg and Maybee.

Loose material from the Gerweck and newspaper buildings then broke apart causing more damage to the building's parapet, brickwork and windows. Other windows downtown were also hit by debris.

"We had four beams break back where the transformer came in," McClellan said. "It didn't break them in half, but they were damaged and then some material hit a different part of the roof near the front and broke another beam."

An engineer's report was returned on the damages on May 1. McClellan said they received a building permit the same day from the village to begin repairs. A contractor began work immediately.

"It will be at least a week to do the brickwork because we have some damage on the side and adjoining wall to the building next door. And of course to the front," McClellan said. "The fire department was worried about brick falling, so they actually took off a lot more brick than had fallen off in the first place."

Once the brickwork is complete, work will begin on replacing the beams, insulation and electrical work in the ceiling. McClellan said he's also taking the opportunity to renovate the coffee shop with new counters, flooring and equipment.

He hopes to reopen by the end of June.

It will likely be longer for the village to complete repairs at the Memorial Park gazebo just across Park Place.

"We're trying to get that done the right way in consideration of the history involved," Hoffmeister said. "Since it's a historical building, we want to get that fixed appropriately. It's taking some time because we're still trying to get a contractor."

Most of the damage was to the shelter's clay roof tiles. A large section of the roof was gouged out with other pieces cracked, missing or breaking away in places. A large stone pot statue at the front of the gazebo also broke away.

Hoffmeister said that it remains structurally sound and open for use.

The gazebo was built in 1913 as a memorial for the Civil War and Spanish-American War.

A few other downtown businesses have boarded up windows. A business at 127 Barnum St. also sustained significant damage and was boarded up on all sides.

The sight evoked memories of the 2010 Dundee tornado, which ran through the village at about 2:15 a.m. June 6, 2010.

That storm, classified as an EF-2, reached wind speeds of 130-135 mph and left a greater swath of havoc in its wake. Homes, buildings and trees were damaged or destroyed along a 13-mile path. There were 11 reported injuries. It was one of three tornados that touched down that day in the Monroe County region.

Earlier report: