Recovery continues one year after north Minneapolis tornado

11:01 PM, May 20, 2012   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - It's been one year since a tornado tore apart parts of North Minneapolis.

While Tuesday will mark the actual anniversary, plenty of events marked the occasion this weekend.

Volunteers worked alongside Minneapolis Park and Recreation arborists, planting about 100 trees on Saturday.

Near the intersection of 40th and Dupont Avenue North, arborist Mark Parks said volunteers were helping him put in a hackberry tree, "It's pretty much a derivative of an elm."

And it's never more obvious, the need to replace lost trees, than on a hot sunny day.

Philip Potyondy with Minneapolis Park and Recreation with said, "Ask any of the volunteers and see the sweat on their faces you can definitely know how important canopy is."

During Arbor Week, he says 400 volunteers have helped plant about 1,000 trees.

Apple Valley High School student Trenton Olson said, "I'm actually doing it for a school project for civics class."

David Stallworth, who lives in Robbinsdale, said he chose to help plant trees for, "The neighborhood, the environment, it's just good to volunteer."

They are calling the effort a Treecovery. 

Volunteer Judy Marbut said, "We've lived here for a long time and we just needed it to look nice."

Minneapolis Park and Recreation will plant three-thousand trees this spring to replace those taken by the tornado.  That's a lot of trees to water so they ask homeowners to also give the trees 20 gallons of water a week to make sure they grow and flourish.

The community is also recovering and celebrating as they get back some of the homes the twister damaged.

Tornado survivor Robert McClennon said, "When the storm hit a year ago, two trees fell on our home."

He and his wife Roberta were at the Habitat for Humanity block party at 30th and Logan on Saturday, actually celebrating two things.  He said with a smile, "Today is our 32nd anniversary."

And then Roberta said, thanks to Habitat, "We have a brand new front porch."

Robert continued, "'Thank you so much, Habitat for Humanity."

Andy Barnett with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity said, "We've been working with families to repair homes and we've repaired about 30 homes across the tornado path."

He said Habitat's next phase is to build new homes to replace those lost.

So much damage still remains.

Lester Keener was in his home with family when the tornado hit.  He said, "Doors was blowing off.  Windows were coming out my bedroom."

Recovery seems elusive for Keener whose landlord has not yet fixed his home.  Keener said, "We've got holes in the walls still upstairs. (The) ceiling is falling in."

While he feels helpless, he is hopeful homes will be fixed, new ones built and his community will continue to heal.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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