MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Cleanup continues today after a deadly tornado ripped through North Minneapolis yesterday, killing one and injuring 29 others.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said he is incredibly proud of how North Minneapolis handled the emergency situation.
“What we saw happen was just a lot of people helping each other and staying quiet and doing the best they could. It was really a good sign of what strength there is in this community,” said Rybak.
Officials report that there still are more than 10,000 people without electricity and quite a few wires down.
Mayor Rybak said although there has been a lot of good work done, emergency crews ask that people still keep the streets open.
“We’re asking people to simply stay away. The traffic issue is really significant.”
According to Rybak, first responders were ready for an emergency situation because they just finished an Emergency Preparedness training a couple months ago, and they had been through this before.
“People went into action right away. That meant first responders and police and fire, going out immediately, making sure people are safe, getting people out of their homes and removing people from gas leak areas.”
After the first wave of rescue workers finished, a second wave rolled in which included inspectors and regulatory services officials.
“They were looking at homes and businesses,” said Rybak. “You go block by block because it was so large. We started where we could frankly. Our public works crews were on the ground immediately, and our forestry folks working with clearing streets.”
Rybak also credits the city’s partner agencies at the county, multiple other cities around the region, the non-profits like the Red Cross as well as the Family Center, which was set up right away.
He said he went to visit the Northeast Armory in Minneapolis, where quite a few people spent the night, Monday morning.
“About 260 people spent the night. There were some kids that had nightmares, understandably, but mostly it was a quiet night here.”
The area hit the hardest by the tornado has seen its share of rough times. According to Rybak, it’s also an economically hard hit area.
“If the tornado could have chosen one of the hardest hit places in the state, I think it hit it. It’s really sobering to look at it from the sky, especially because it’s exactly where there have been the biggest issues with unemployment and foreclosure.”
One of the biggest problems the devastated area is facing: residents living in rental properties that are now damaged. A special task force has been working with renters to find temporary shelter.
Rybak said that despite everything the area has gone through he finds that there is something special about it.
“I think in this area there are some real needs, but there’s an incredible spirit in North Minneapolis that people don’t often see,” he said. “I think you saw that yesterday with just one great human story after the other.”
WCCO’s Dave Lee Interviews Mayor R.T. Rybak