Gov. Mark Dayton visited the Brainerd lakes area on Friday and declared the popular vacation destination "open for business."

Applauding the area's ongoing efforts to recover from Sunday's sudden, severe storm, Dayton praised "the Minnesota way of digging in and doing what you need to do."

Before leaving for a helicopter survey of the widespread damage, the governor met informally with a group of area resort owners to hear their concerns.

He was accompanied by U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., and several state legislators from the area's delegation.

"When there's a challenging situation in Minnesota, we're not Democrats or Republicans," Dayton said. "We're Minnesotans."

Roads around Gull Lake on Friday were crowded with utility trucks, brush haulers and police vehicles. Chainsaws whined and wood chippers growled as workers labored to cut, chop and haul the incalculable number of trees and branches downed in the storm, which brought straight-line winds of 70 miles per hour.

Dutch Cragun, whose family opened the resort in 1941, said he had 650 guests ready for a bingo game when the storm hit. They hustled down to the ground floor, and when the power went out, everybody sang "You Are My Sunshine."

Although some resorts will need a few more days to be 100 percent up and running, the owners said on Friday that they're ready and eager to receive visitors. Those who lack full capacity are referring their guests to other area lodgings that have room.

Nolan echoed Dayton's praise of the cleanup efforts.

"The resiliency has been really remarkable," he said. "The folks here are ready for all the tourists, so keep 'em coming."