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Wadena Rebuilding 6 Months After Tornado

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Wadena Rebuild

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS) Liz Collin
At 15 years old, Liz Collin made her broadcast debut covering...
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By Liz Collin, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — While we are still digging out from one of the biggest blizzards ever to hit the Twin Cities, Friday marks another historic weather story.

It will be six months since 39 tornadoes touched down in the state, the most ever in Minnesota on a single day. On June 17, 2010, a town two and a half hours northwest of the Twin Cities was hit hardest.

We went back to Wadena to see what’s happened since.

The Kern family had only had about 12 hours to process what had happened when we first met them six months ago. Scott, Missy, and the kids have only been in their new home a month after they rebuilt on the same lot.

“That’s what I’ve been telling people. To me, it don’t feel real,” Scott Kern said.

The family had to take cover from the storm at a nearby store. That’s why in their new home, shelter was a must.

“We’re happy we have a basement now,” Scott said.

More than 100 homes in Wadena were destroyed that day in June. In all, 400 buildings gone.

The tornado, 200 yards wide, ripped apart two whole blocks — or about a quarter of town.

Six months since, signs of progress are everywhere. The high school has been leveled and set for spring construction, hundreds of cemetery stones put back in place, and a once indoor hockey rink is pushed outside, polished and ready for winter.

Wadena Mayor Wayne Wolden said that was an important part of moving on.

“We’ve got 150 kids in the youth hockey program who didn’t have a rink,” Wolden said.

Now, the biggest concern for this town is what will happen to the empty space. About half of the homes destroyed haven’t been rebuilt.

“There’s between 30 and 40 bare lots that we’re going to be dealing with for some time. And that’s great concern, that’s tax base,” Wolden said.

The Kern’s appreciate all the help they got to get back on their feet.

“I think we really learned to really realize and be thankful for the things we do have,” Missy Kern said.

Its given new meaning to the holiday season as they give thanks for a new, safer home.

“I never went through a tornado and I hope to never do it again,” said Scott Kern.

WCCO-TV’s Liz Collin Reports

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