CLARKS GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) — Communities across Minnesota are still rebuilding one month after a violent storm. The March 6 storm produced the earliest tornadoes on record in Minnesota.
North of the cities in Zimmerman, the storm left yards filled with tree limbs and debris. Garage doors were sucked out of their homes, roofs taken off as well.
There was also significant damage south of the Twin Cities in Clarks Grove where several businesses were badly damaged, including the fire department and City Hall.
Signs of progress are all across the small town of about 700.
“We all work together,” resident Chuck Avery said. “There were hundreds of people out that evening already. Chainsaws running — and we had so much help from the surrounding towns.”
Chuck Avery has spent 50 years in in Clarks Grove, and he knows the people are strong and kind.
“I think it’s wonderful that we come together like that,” Avery said. “That’s what we should do. So we were really proud to live here.”
But there’s only so much helpful neighbors can do.
“We can hopefully get some state aid from the governor — state disaster assistance — to help the town recover a bit,” Freeborn County emergency management director Rich Hall said.
Hall says many small businesses, and even some city buildings, are still waiting for insurance help to determine if they need to tear down and rebuild from scratch.
“We don’t have much, anyway, for small town business, and when you lose any of them, it hurts deeply,” Avery said.
One month later, it’s clear the impact of the tornado will be felt for many more to come.
“We can take it, though, laughs,” Avery said. “We are tough.”
This week, Clarks Grove learned they did qualify for state help with some of the public property in town. There’s more than $60,000 in damage, but they’re still waiting on final estimates from insurance. Town leaders asking gov Dayton to improve state help this week, covering 75 percent of the cost of repairs, while the rest come from county money.