Dayton, Klobuchar, other public officials tour tornado damage, prepare to help

From left, Speaker Zellers, Sen. Klobuchar, Mayor Rybak and Gov. Dayton spoke to the press after touring parts of North Minneapolis hit by Sunday's severe weather.
MinnPost photo by James Nord
From left, Speaker Zellers, Sen. Klobuchar, Mayor Rybak and Gov. Dayton spoke to the press after touring parts of North Minneapolis hit by Sunday’s severe weather.

A coalition of local, state and federal officials sprang into action shortly after severe weather tore through North Minneapolis on Sunday, damaging countless homes and injuring three-dozen people.

Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, 5th District Rep. Keith Ellison and House Speaker Kurt Zellers accompanied Mayor R.T. Rybak and others today to see damaged areas off West Broadway Avenue and North 26th Street.

They then gave an update on emergency responders’ progress clearing the area.

Rybak was unable to give an update on the number of homes affected by the tornado that killed one and injured at least 30. By this morning, about 10,000 metro residents were still without power — down from about 22,000.

City workers were going block by block counting the number of damaged homes. Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives, who have been in Minnesota to assess flood damages, were at the scene today assessing whether the area qualified for federal disaster funds.

“There were a lot of houses and businesses that were twisted and turned from this tornado,” Klobuchar said.

City workers and inspectors were crawling all over the streets, many of which were blocked by fallen trees that had ripped up giant slabs of sidewalk as their roots tore out of the ground.

Rybak said city inspectors were there to ensure that unscrupulous contractors weren’t taking advantage of beleaguered residents.

Hundreds of volunteers and residents picked through the smaller piles of rubble and debris that littered lawns and roads. Others simply wandered around, taking in the scene.

About 200 people stayed at the Armory in Northeast Minneapolis Sunday night, and the city opened up North and Patrick Henry high schools today for residents to stop by and “have a meal.” Many city parks have been made available, as well.

Area schools were closed because of the storm.

Mayor Rybak, Sen. Klobuchar and Rep. Ellison were among those who took a walking tour of the damaged areas of North Minneapolis.
MinnPost photo by James Nord
Mayor Rybak, Sen. Klobuchar and Rep. Ellison were among those who took a walking tour of the damaged areas of North Minneapolis.

The Minneapolis Convention Center also will be open today and Tuesday — staffed with volunteers affiliated with Project Homeless Connect — to provide assistance.

While officials praised today’s progress, they noted that long-term support will be necessary to help rebuild the “resilient” North Minneapolis community.

Zellers, the House speaker, confirmed that the state is ready to jump into action to address the damages once Dayton calls a special legislative session — much like October’s special session, which produced an $80 million flood relief bill, to help residents in Greater Minnesota.

“We’ll do the exact same thing this year when the time is right,” he said.

Dayton, who met with reporters briefly before rushing to back to the Capitol, said help is on the way because “we’re all Minnesotans, and we’re all going to reach out.”

The North Minneapolis tornado was one of at least three that did damage in Fridley and St. Louis Park.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Patricia Kelly on 05/23/2011 - 03:35 pm.

    Thank you for the coverage. North Minneapolis has struggled mightily these last several years with the foreclosure crisis, and now this; they need all the help we can give them.

    I have one nit to pick, however, and that is that it’s 26th Avenue North, not 26th Street. Unlike South Minneapolis, the east-west streets on the Northside are called avenues, not streets. I noticed the same problem in the Strib, and while it seems a small thing, it reflects a lack of knowledge of the community you’re reporting about. Let’s do right by these folks.

  2. Submitted by antone braga on 05/24/2011 - 08:41 am.

    When it comes to your property, can you see what to expect in case of loss, e.g., hurricane, tornado, earthquake, flood, fire? If you are like most of the insuring public you draw a blank on that question. The bigger question is when will you preempt the course setting?

  3. Submitted by Rebecca Hoover on 05/24/2011 - 11:49 pm.

    I must say that I find the beeline that politician Amy Klobuchar makes to every disaster to be repugnant. If I could believe for even one second that her parading to disaster areas, after calling the press first of course, was anything more than an insincere show of concern, I might not feel like upchucking right now. I observe, however, that Klobuchar has done little during her years in Washington to help the folks from North Minneapolis.

    Her constant use of disasters for photo op purposes is exactly the type of behavior that leads ordinary citizens to loathe politicians. What the folks in North Minneapolis need is jobs, jobs, jobs! Good jobs that pay a living wage. Amy Klobuchar should focus on helping communities such as North Minneapolis regularly, regularly — not just when North Minneapolis offers a good photo op.

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