MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Tuesday’s warmth and sunshine were a stark contrast to the scene in north Minneapolis one year ago.
At around 2:45 p.m. on May 22, 2011, the tornado tore a nearly 3 mile path of destruction through the neighborhood. The twister damaged 3,700 properties, and the cost of the disaster is estimated at $80 million.
A year later, a little more than 100 homes are still in need of repair.
Two men who died as a result: Floyd David Whitfield, who was killed when a tree fell on his van, and Rob MacIntyre, who died while helping his neighbors clean up after the tornado came through.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and some city council members honored the victims Tuesday by planting a tree in McIntyre’s old yard. MacIntyre was an avid gardener, and a $50,000 fund has been established to plant new trees in his memory.
There are many lasting memories from last year’s tornado. But one story – about a woman and her home — stood out amongst the others.
Nancy Coleman might seem like any other Minneapolis homeowner, but she is not. Last year’s tornado ripped a wall from her home, exposing the entire structure to the elements.
At the time the tornado struck, the missing wall exposed Coleman to a vortex of whirling debris.
“I just think I’m lucky I’m living,” Coleman said. “That’s all I can say.”
The image of her torn home became a memory of the community tragedy.
Her broken home was demolished, but another was built in its place. Its design is different from the original, offering an open floor plan and a view of the neighborhood.
“I love my neighborhood,” Coleman said. “There’s a lot to love.”
She said only two families on her street didn’t return to the neighborhood.
Ray Pruban built Coleman’s home from her pictures and sketches. He describes it as her dream home.
“It turned out better than I could have ever imaged,” Coleman said. “But you can’t image anything beautiful after something so ugly happened.”
Coleman said her year was filled with paperwork from insurance claims and planning with the builders. She spent three hours a day on the phone, sometimes on three lines at a time.
She says her new life is just beginning and that she has many goals related to her new home.