3 Weeks After Tornado, North Mpls. Living Conditions Tough

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hundreds of homes were damaged when a tornado hit North Minneapolis on May 22. Trees crashed into cars, and roofs and walls were ripped off homes and buildings. Now, nearly 3 weeks later, and living conditions are still tough for a lot people.

Parts of the city have taken on a “Ghost Town” feel. Some homes are too heavily damaged for people to stay in, while others say they have no other choice.

“It’s depressing,” said Zeanna Robinson. “It’s depressing to have to look at it in this shape and condition.”

Robinson lives with her four children in one of those damaged house. Broken glass is still an issue, as is some water that continues to drip through her roof.

“It stresses you out when you are on limited resources, limited funds, things like that,” said Robinson.

Peter Kerre was so taken aback by what he’s seen, that he flew here from New York to see if he could help in any way. He’s been door-knocking and says what he’s seen in some homes is shocking.

Kerre says some people are still living with holes in their floors, and raw sewage in their basements.

“Most of these houses I’m knocking on, when I speak to them, they have kids who are traumatized. Kids who, you know, have to see all this and they are living in terrible conditions,” said Kerre.

They are conditions that have put Marcus Western in the doghouse — literally.

“I live right up in that dog house,” said Western. “I keep all my stuff up in that truck. I have so much stuff. It’s all piled up.”

Western says he stayed in a hotel a couple nights, but ran out of money. Now he stays in the doghouse so he can keep an eye on what’s left of his belongings.

“I am just thankful to be alive,” said Western. “I’m thankful to be alive.”

More from John Lauritsen
  • M

    Wow be less of a drag and negative!

    • Ricky

      Peters “do gooding” as you call it IS making a difference. People in my neighborhood who rent from slumlords have been helped ONLY because Peter has been going door to door. Yes living conditions were a problem before the tornado hit but now it is a lot worse. He is not going to fix the North Side all by himself but he is getting things done and helping people who otherwise would be left in the dark-literally. Nobody would know about the man living in a dog house, the renters who STILL do not have power because of slumlords. He is bringing the media here to shed light on these people in need. Instead of telling him to “GO BACK TO NY!” you should be begging him to “STAY IN NORTH MPLS!”

      • Anna

        don’t get your panties in a bunch. it’s just one persons opinion. take a deep breath, my comment will not send Kerre away.

        • Go pick yourself.

          All the suburban trash making judgements here can go f k themselves.

        • Vanity Combs

          Learn how to write like a grownup c t.

        • Tulip Sour


  • Pick yourself up!

    This is why ADULTS need to have JOBS and *insurance.
    *Renter’s insurance is ridiculously inexpensive.
    Break the welfare/hand-out cycle & set a better example for the children.

    • Anna


    • Go pick yourself.

      Why do you jump to that conclusion you piece of trash?

      • Darren

        The article says Robinson lives with her 4 children? Where is the father for these children? If she is taking care of 4 children she probably isn’t working a job so that tells me she is on some type of assistance, could be welfare, could be SSI, maybe her husband died, maybe she doesn’t have a husband. There are alot of potential issues here. I will assume since she said they live on a limited income there is nobody making money in that family and that she is not recieving any type of life insurance from her husband’s life insurance if that is the case.
        THen, does she go to church or have other relatives she could turn too? Does she have a faith church where they would help her in her time of need?

        Its hard when these stories are never explained in full. But that is the liberal tv news stations, you never get the full truth to what is reality.

  • drea

    People can be so rude…just because this happened in North Minneapolis you don’t need to make sterotypical judgements. There are plenty of people who work FULL TIME jobs and are still struggling after this tornado. If one minute you had a roof and the next you didn’t what would you do? Renters insurance only covers so much. If the damage is to the property it’ the landlords insurance that covers the damage. There are many slumlords in North Minneapolis that have left their tenants with nothing and no options. Get the facts before passing judgement.

    • Guy

      There IS something you can do – MOVE if you don’t like your landlord. If the place isn’t livable; that breaks your lease & you can LEAVE.

      • Jenni Madsen

        Not everyone has 1000’s in savings. Many people live pay check to pay check (in the suburbs and the city). I had almost 10,000 in savings and waiting for insurance I emptied my account. The initial cost and inability to get fast results from insurance agents, contractors, etc. can be difficult for everyone. Simply picking up and moving is NOT possible for most Americans. This is not even considering the legal ramifications of breaking a lease. Think before you speak.

        • Guy

          I do think before >II< used to BE a landlord over in N-M (9th & Morgan) so I DO know from whence I speak.

          • Guy

            OK; that ended up as a f-ed-up mess. Let me repost what I said.

            I DO think before I speak – do you.

            The topic under discussion is RENTAL housing – not owner occupied where YOU would be paying for repairs. The only insurance that would be under consideration in this condition would be a RENTERS policy (if one exists; if it does not then THAT was a bad choice on the part of the tenant & they should suck it up & live with their stupidity). Contractors, repair expenses and any insurace agents/policies for the property are the problem of the LANDLORD.

            If the property is damaged to the point where it is not habitable (no electric; roof leaks; etc) & is not being repaired in a timely manner then that is a valid reason to break the lease. It is now past the 1st of the month. That means that it has gone past one paycheck or welfare check cycle – so anyone living “paycheck to paycheck” should HAVE that paycheck to use for the deposit on a new place. They can then file a lawsuit if need be to recover the deposit at the old location.

            I AM quite familier with the legal ramifications of breaking a lease – I used to BE a landlord in N-M (over at 9th & Morgan) up until about 7 years ago so I DO know from whence I speak.

            • Jenni Madsen

              Only about 9% of renters in Minnesota actually have renter’s insurance. The last time I rented I needed first month and security deposit – close to $2,000. If you do the math $7 per hour x 40 hours a week = $280 – taxes = NOT ENOUGH FOR ANYTHING CERTAINLY NOT A SECURITY DEPOSIT. Less than 1% of our taxes actually go towards these social services. Welfare is about $500 a month. A lot has happened to our economy in the 7 years (since you worked over North) you may want to turn on the news or think about someone other than yourself for awhile.

              • Les Johnson

                $7 per hour? Where are you getting that figure? There isn’t anybody making $7 per hour, and if they do, that’s their own damn fault.

          • Jenni Madsen

            You tried to sound educated but ended up making absolutely no sense. The only thing I noted was the “used” which means you no longer do.

            • Guy

              No; their web board tried to interpret the info between the less than and greater than signs as html & sniped most of my posting – that is why I reposted.

    • Gunny

      Absolutely drea. I’m not surprised though at the selfishness in the comments I have read so far. “Pick yourself up”? REALLY? This is not a situation where you can just snap your fingers and make it happen. It will take months for some of the insurance to work itself out and then the rebuilding and repairs can start.
      He ”
      Pick” where were you when over 2000 people volunteered t help?

    • Darren

      Then these tenants should be checking before they go into some type of agreement with a “slumlord”.

      If I am going to buy something or even rent something I am going to check into it before i purchase it. Thats just common sense.

    • Justin

      it is not stereotypical, look at when tornadoes happen in other communities, everyone comes together and help cleans the minute the storm has cleared, that did not happen, they waited for other people, make excuses, and not make the best for themselves. 34 homes torn apart, trajedy yes, but where do you get 1200 to come to a help shelter from 34 homes. Noone is being stereotypical, its 3 weeks later and still a mess, Joplin, and other communities that have had damage are getting along fine, look how quick Gaylord, MN was cleaned.

  • drea

    Actually I’m renting and I have a FULL TIME job. Yes, you can leave the property but if the city has not considered the property unlivable you still legally owe rent. Renters insurance does NOT cover the damage deposit at the new place. It’s unbelivable to me that people who obviously do NOT live in North Mpls want to pass their ridiculous judgements. U know nothing about the people who live and love north!

    • Guy

      Then demand that your landlord FIX the problems. If he doesn’t then contact the inspections department & get an order from them. Alternatly start a rent escrow with the courts until its repaired (and ask that the court reduce your rent since the
      place isn’t up to the condition that it was when you moved in & is thus a breach of contract).

  • Sly

    Some people are just plain old ignorant! If you haven’t walked in these peoples footsteps you need to shut the hell up! No matter who they are, what they’re doing, how they live…they are people. They have lives, families, responsibilites and are doing what they can to survive. Quit passing judgment unless you truly no what it’s like. Stereotyping makes you look like a moron, which is clearly the case.

    • Pick yourself up!

      Happy to say I have NOT walked in their shoes!!!!!!
      I’ve worked hard, received an education, had 2 children that I could afford and received NO government handouts. With renters insurance, you can live in a hotel…paid for by the insurance….worth the investment!
      PS: Spot on post stumpdealer!

  • drea

    No…actually renters insurance won’t cover a hotel/motel if it’s due to property damage. I haven’t lived in their shoes either but empathy ( if u know what that means) goes a LONG way.

  • Sly

    I’m sure everyone in north mpls isn’t necessarily happy to be where they are. I know everyone isn’t collecting. I know you were probably handed everything and not born into poverty. I lived over there for 4 years. I worked and paid my bills. I am raising 3 kids with no handouts. I know not only me, but many of the people over there have more morals, love and heart then you will ever get close to experiencing. I truly feel sorry for you and your poor children. Hopefully they grow up being better human beings than you.

  • big blue

    I saw that one lady was living in some damaged rental with four kieds. Didn’t appear to have a job. And one question. If a tornado hits Eden Prairie or some other white suburb, will the blacks volunteer and help? I don’t think so.

    • Jenni Madsen

      You can’t even spell “kids”

      • Les Johnson

        Grow up, Jenni Madsen. How old are you?

  • Nancy Aleshire

    I have lived in their shoes. During the 1980’s my family (husband, two toddler aged children, and myself) were living in a mobile home in Tulsa OK. We were low income, but employed. Our first night there we had a severe thunderstorm (thank goodness it was no tornado). At any rate we had to leave the mobile home because it started to shake. We had to ride it out in our car because the community shelter was locked and we discovered the trailer had no tie downs and the place was condemned. We wound up in a homeless shelter, and to add insult to injury, people were helping themselves to our belongings. This can happen to anyone from every background and economic level. No one has a right to pass judgment.

  • Sean, Minneapolis Pride!!!

    Anna you must be a racist white pig for what you say!!! You need to grow up and get your head out of your ass!!! The people of north Mpls need all the help they can get!!! Get a life you PIG!!! Put that in your pipe and smoke it!!!

    • Gary

      They get there help at the end of the month. They all voted for Obama. The check is in the mail.

    • Anna

      them is fighting words. LOL. i love how upset you are. judge judge judge. YOU are a boobie turd mouth.

  • drea

    Assuming that everyone who lives over North is black and poor makes you look really ignorant. Have you even been over north? How do you know the lady didn’t have a job? Did you ask her big blue? I’m assuming that the people who left these insincere comments are white republicans that live in the suburbs, and have never even seen the north side.

    • Anna

      I didn’t say anything about jobs. Please leave annoying comments on appropriate threads.

      • drea

        Anna you’re an idiot. That comment was a new thread. Maybe my comment spoke to you because you’re one of the people making ignorant comments, but it wasn’t just directed to you only. No, you didn’t say anything about jobs, but if you actually took the time to READ the comment that was directed to big blue. Please leave YOUR annoying comments…..to yourself.

  • Jenni Madsen

    I can’t believe some of these comments. Thank goodness most people I know are good, caring people. I am white, educated (Ph.D)., employed full time, raising my son. I live over north by choice and my house was destroyed in the storm. It is a great community and I have been amazed at all the people who are giving what they can (time, money, food, etc). I had trees removed from my yard by someone walking around with a saw. Thank you to all those who helped and continue to help. Please know that not all white people are negative, selfish, idiots. Theses people are simply ignorant! Why would spend your time writing negative comments about something you know nothing about. Get a life and think about someone other than yourself for a minute.

  • GreenLady

    I am curious to know what individuals think who have rentals in North or elsewhere? I wonder if it is hard having a rental property in N.Mpls – I wonder if there are many who have quality renters who pay and take pride in their homes? Just thinking maybe some of these landlords have thrown their hands up at this point? I am sure there are many many good people in North – but I haven’t heard of many who are happy to live in the ghetto or eager to move there.

    • drea

      I live in north minneapolis and where I live is not the ghetto. Thankfully I have a great landlord who fixes things when they need repairs. I do take pride in my house. I have lived here for almost 10 years and me and my family are happy here. I was raised in the city and I will continue to live in the city. Do you actually think slumlords become that way because of bad tenants? Slumlords are only concerned about one thing ….money. Good or bad tentants can have bad landlords.

      • Guy

        I used to have a rental over at 9th & Morgan. I got rid of it a little over 7 years ago. I can tell you stories of the tenants who left an INCH of grime on the tops of the ‘fridge (actually; I could show you PICTURES if you can stomach them – I still have them).

        I can tell you about the tenants who left about 40 bags of moldy, cockroach infested clothes (the property did NOT have cockroaches before they moved in & I got rid of the ‘roaches again after the left) and broken furniture in the basement (& after I hauled it out & put it in a dumpster, half the neighborhood showed up & went dumpster diving in the ‘roach infested moldy crap).

        I can tell you about the nice neat 2″x2″ holes cut out of my screens (crack anyone) and then having the tenant claim “burglery” (burglers do NOT cut out nice SMALL holes in the screen – they kick the back door in …. which also happed twice within a week once when we were doing a between-tenant rehab).

        I can tell you about finding STOLEN street signs left behind in the kid’s bedroom after a tenant moved out; telling the parents & getting blown off as “no big deal”.

        I can tell you about going over to replace some loose linoleum floor tiles in the kitchen (due to the TENANTS leaking dishwasher) & while I was working I could hear the kids (5 – EACH with a DIFFERENT last name [I get a complete list on my rental app]) trying to break (kicking I believe) one of the bedroom doors while “mom” sat on her butt on the couch & didn’t even SAY anything..

        So you know what? I got out. I sold the place to some Iranians who WERE planning to be slumlords (they never managed to make it that far I don’t know what happened; but the bank forclosed on it soon after). I know they were going to be slumlords because I remember them talking about subdividing the 1000 sq.ft. basement into something like a dozen closet sized bedrooms & renting each one to an entire family of Mongs. (This was a 1 bath house btw).

        So yes; in a way slumlords become that way due to bad tenants – any landlord that actually TRIES to maintain the place gets screwed & leaves & only the slumlords can survive.

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