Storms displace Iowa County church camp

Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014 --- 10:22 p.m.

Monday's storms left a popular church retreat in Iowa County without power, displacing campers and staff.

Paul Petersen, director of Bethel Horizons, said the 20 adult campers on site at the time huddled together to ride out the storm. Fortunately, no one was injured. However, storms knocked down several trees, blocking the entrance road, making it impossible for anyone to leave for several hours.

While some of the trees have been cleared, the camp still remains without power, forcing campers and staff to retreat to other homes or nearby hotels.

“It affects everything, all of our pumps for water and sewer are controlled by electric power,” Petersen said.

The local Piggly Wiggly offered to store the camp's food until power is restored, which may still be a while. Several down lines and transmitters, along with the rural nature of the area, pose additional challenges for power crews.

“It's harder to get in to replace poles that may be broken or even just get to the trees and branches that are on the lines,” said Bob Gutschenritter, south regional manager with Alliant Energy.

Starting Tuesday, Petersen will be asking for volunteers to help remove tree branches. He's already received help from many nearby neighbors and church-goers.

“We're grateful for all of these wonderful people helping us out and checking in on us... it's really heartwarming,” he said.

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