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.
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.