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Residents Still Rebuilding 1 Year After Tornado

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the tornado that ripped through the north side of Minneapolis.

It destroyed homes for blocks and took down many trees. There’s been a lot of work done in the past year in an attempt to rebuild the north side, and there’s still more to do.

There are still blue tarps on some homes in north Minneapolis. The tornado destroyed or caused damage to 3,700 properties that day. According to the city of Minneapolis, 96 percent of homes have been fixed, torn down or are in the process of being fixed.

And a little more than one hundred homes still need to be repaired. Two people lost their lives because of the tornado. Floyd David Whitfield died when a tree fell on his van. Rob MacIntyre died while trying to help his neighbors clean up from the storm.

Late Tuesday morning, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and city council members will plant a tree in the yard of MacIntyre’s widow.

Also at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Mayor Rybak will join students at Lucy Laney School in a peace circle. They will also release balloons signifying hope, healing and resilience.

There will be a moment of silence at 2:45 p.m. Then at 3 p.m., they will all ride their bikes to the University of Minnesota Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center. That’s where they tell stories of recovery and talk about plans for the future.

Some of the hardest hit in north Minneapolis have been renters. Many didn’t have insurance for their belongings, and some landlords took insurance money without rebuilding.

We met a family with 11 children the day after the tornado and checked back with them now. They found a home, but it’s not a permanent one.

When Peaches Fuller sits down to home school her kids, she’s got a full house. She’s got 11 kids, aged 2 to 22, and another one on the way.

“This one is due in August and I have no clue. I’ve used up all my girl names,” Fuller said.

But the chaos inside her new home is nothing compared to what happened when the tornado hit the old one last year.

“It could have been much much worse so I’m so grateful my baby was in that room, about to be sucked out the window when my husband grabbed her,” Fuller said.

Their rental home was ruined. They lost everything, but nobody was hurt and they are grateful for what they found.

“Look at our place. This is a duplex with eight bedrooms in it. Nobody’s sleeping on the floor,” Fuller said.

But it’s not permanent. The landlord cut the rent dramatically to fit into their Section 8 subsidy, and they’re not sure how long that will last. Now the kids have an understandable fear of storms and loud noises. Particularly little Johdee, who was almost lost in the last one.

“I’m telling you. There could be a tornado in Iowa. We know about it.  We know where it’s going, how fast it’s going to get there.  We know,” Fuller said.

Still, one year later they focus on what they have, not what they don’t. And as the anniversary approaches, they count their blessings.

“No reason to cry. We lost stuff. Stuff that has been, or could easily be replaced. No people,” Fuller said.

One interesting note: Peaches will not homeschool the kids next year. After the latest baby is born in August, she plans to start school herself in January. She’s studying to be a nurse/midwife.

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