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Recovery Starts In North Minneapolis After Tornado

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By James Schugel, WCCO-TV 

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The struggle to clean up and keep going continued in north Minneapolis on Monday.

Some people are feeling helpless and hopeless throughout the area destroyed by the tornado.

Experts said it got stronger as it hit the city. Damage assessment teams say it’ll be rated a strong EF-1 or EF-2, with winds up to 137 miles per hour.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever went through in my life,” said Ugena Okorafor-Bell, who escaped the storm with her family.  She recalled the ‘roar,’ she said, of the tornado as it tore through her neighborhood.  It tore off her roof and destroyed her home. 

“It’s so defeating.  You work all your life, and it’s taken away in an instant,” she said.

Okorafor-Bell was clearly stunned by the damage and the change in her life.  It’s raw, unfiltered agony she’s never experienced.  She hasn’t been able to salvage too much from her water-logged home, only a trunk full of stuff.

Okorafor-Bell was just one of the 250 people forced from their homes.  Cleanup is slow, and electricity won’t be on until Wednesday, according to Xcel Energy.  As of Monday night, 7,600 people are still without electricity.

Some apartment buildings and homes that are still standing can’t be lived in.  Bricks were falling off  one home on Golden Valley Road, so Minneapolis City Inspectors have told people to get out.

“All I can do is hold on and pray to God that he hears my prayers,” said Desa Hoyle who lives in that building.

Neighborhoods are distressed, and city leaders are asking people who don’t live in the area to stay out, so clean up can continue.

Impassable roads forced seven schools on the North side to close Monday.

Residents feel down on their luck, but Ronald Crossland isn’t.

“I’m thankful to be alive,” he said.  A tree fell on his car with him inside, and he had to crawl through the cabin to escape.

“The only thing I could think of was to get up out of there, and that’s what I did,” he said.

He knows it could have been worse for him, and Okorafor-Bell knows the same.  They both survived.

“It was a miracle we got out safe. It was a miracle,” she said.

It’s that perspective that keeps her going, even when every other one could easily keep her down.

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