Herald JournalHerald and Journal, July 1, 2002

Lake Ann family loses home in rainstorm

By Lynda Jensen

A wall of tree roots, branches, and debris burst through the back of Troy and Susie Lange's home along the eastern shore of Ann Lake, following heavy rains in the early morning hours Tuesday.

The storm dropped an estimated six to 10 inches of water in the Howard Lake and Waverly area.

Crawling over appliances, the Langes fled their home in the middle of the night, Susie said. The Langes have two young boys, Christian, 5, and Chase, 2.

"We just ran with the clothes on our backs," she said.

Their home is situated at the bottom of a bluff, protected by a huge retaining wall, she said.

Prior to the disaster, the Langes heard "incredible" winds, Troy Lange said, which gave away to a loud explosion at about 2 a.m.

The Langes immediately fled their home, passing Chase to each other over the wreckage, Susie Lange said.

"I think we should thank God that we're alive," Christian said to his mother as they drove away from their destroyed home, Susie said.

She was amazed that such a young boy would make that observation, especially in the middle of such a vicious lightning storm and after seeing their home devastated, she said.

Chronic power outages and exceptional lighting and thunder, as well as heavy rain, were reported throughout the area.

The next morning, the Langes returned to their home to salvage what they could, before another round of predicted rain might further damage the structure.

Immediately, about 30 neighbors around Lake Ann dropped their own salvage efforts to help the Langes.

They found the upstairs bedrooms intact, which allowed them to rescue some items there, Susie said.

The predicted rain did not materialize, but the water level rose by about two to three feet Tuesday anyway, friend Heather Fretheim said.

During the disaster, the Langes telephoned the Fretheims, Mike and Heather, Mike said. The Fretheims live at the shores of Big Waverly Lake.

"Our power went out at 11 p.m.," Mike Fretheim said. At midnight, their dock washed out, he said.

Then they received a phone call from Susie Lange, Mike said. 'She said 'Our house is gone,' he said. Susie told the Fretheims they were taking shelter with relatives in Buffalo.

Now, the Langes are staying at the parsonage of the Walker United Methodist church, which was not occupied, Pastor Deb Clausen said.

"They're pretty much in shock," Clausen said of the Langes.

The Langes discovered belatedly that the portion of insurance they thought covered them did not cover this kind of disaster.

The home originally was a cabin, which Troy purchased when he was 19 years old.

Lange benefit set

Note change in date from earlier announcement:

A benefit to aid Troy and Susie Lange will be conducted at the Howard Lake Memorial Park at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25.

Music will be available by guitarist Mike Fretheim, and his band Red Dot Garage. Those interested in helping may contact Don Danford at (320) 543-2615.

Donations are being accepted at the Walker United Methodist Church at PO Box 277, Howard Lake, MN 55349. Donations should be marked for the Langes, Pastor Claussen said.

Photos:

Troy and Susie Lange.The Langes fled their home located at the east shore of Ann Lake at 2 a.m. when a wall of mud penetrated the retaining wall behind their house, which is situated under a bluff beside the lake. The retaining wall failed, and a wall of mud and debris burst through their kitchen, pouring into the lower level of their home.

Neighbor Al Baldwin helped the Langes clean up the mess Tuesday morning, as Channel 9 news crews videotaped the scene.

What used to be the Langes' kitchen.


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