'I don't believe this': Trees down, homes damaged in Ripon following strong winds and rain

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RIPON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- There are trees down all over Ripon, a community in in western Fond du Lac County, likely due to straight-line winds on Wednesday, July 28.

Capt. Troy Damsteegt with the City of Ripon Police Department is asking drivers to abide by cones and barricades as several streets are still blocked off.

People who live in Ripon will spend the next few days cleaning up their yards, as there are branches and trees scattered all over.

"(I was) just totally surprised this morning when I got up and looked and saw the damage. I just went like, 'I don't believe this,'" said Lee Soda, who has lived in Ripon for 51 years.

Soda's two acres of land are covered in branches and fallen trees. He and his wife headed to their basement last night after he heard storms would be rolling through the area. He described hearing "monsoon-like" rains and big winds.

But Soda, like other nearby homeowners, is also feeling grateful.

"(The trees) missed the garage, missed the house," he said. "We kind of lucked out on that."

Ripon city officials held a news conference to update residents around 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 29.

"There are a small handful of houses that sustained severe damage. Most people got quite lucky with trees and just barely missing or laying on the houses. So there's a lot of minor shingles, windows, stuff like that, but not too much major damage," said Theodore Grant, the mayor of Ripon.

Jolene Schatzinger found that the end of the storms brought out the best in humanity. Her tree went down, blocking part of the road. Neighbors who she doesn't even know knocked on her door ready to lend a hand.

"To have a neighbor come over to say, 'Hey it looks like you need help, can I help you? I'm here,' and then to come back with their chainsaw ... It means a lot," she said.

There is a lot of cleanup work to be done, but Ripon police said there were no injuries and there was minimal structural damage aside from a few trees that went into houses and several smashed cars.

"Frankly, it could have been worse. Could have been worse. But it's pretty crazy. My tree like part of it fell down," said Alexandra Thompson, who works in Ripon.

"You wake up in the morning and then you got a mess like this. So what are you doing to do? Everybody's gotta clean up their messes and keep going. It's all there is to it," Bob Morrison said.

Ripon police asked homeowners to be careful of wires hanging down while they clean up their yards. Alliant Energy is working to restore power, so the lines could be energized.

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