More than $25 million in work done or under way to repair North Side tornado damage

Six months after a tornado swept through north Minneapolis and caused widespread damage, more than $25 million in repair work to homes and businesses is complete or under way. The City of Minneapolis and its partners have been working since the tornado to help people recover from the disaster, and that work has ranged from debris cleanups and helping residents make repairs, to planting trees and providing counseling for people struggling with the storm’s aftermath.  

Approximately 3,600 properties were affected by the May 22 tornado. Since that time, many property owners have made repairs—so far, more than 2,600 permits have been issued for more than $25 million worth of tornado-related construction, with around 40 new permits being issued each week.

At the end of September, the City identified more than 250 owner-occupied homes that still had exterior damage from the tornado. The top priority for the City and its partners has been to work with every homeowner who wants to stay in their home and to make sure they have the resources to make repairs before winter.

Reaching out with resources

The City has secured more than $2 million in resources to help property owners with repairs. These resources include $1 million in QuickStart funds and more than $1 million in rehabilitation support programs, both from Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. So far, 50 homeowners have either received QuickStart loans, for a combined total of $175,000, or are being assisted through the application process. In addition, the neighborhood organizations representing the areas most impacted by the storm committed $240,000 from the Rebuilding Our Communities Fund to assist with the cost of roof replacement.

The City, the Northside Community Response Team and neighborhood organizations have door-knocked at hundreds of properties to connect with residents, learn about their needs, and provide connections to resources. The Northside Community Response Team has a tornado hotline at 612-787-3730 where people can call to ask questions and find out what help is available to assist in the tornado recovery.

Working with partners to recover

Coordinated through the Northside Community Response Team Housing Committee, multiple nonprofit and foundation partners are helping people who can’t qualify for the available loan programs.

Habitat for Humanity has completed 11 roofing projects and has 15 more in process through a Tarps to Shingles program supported by the Pohlad Family Foundation. Urban Homeworks, Neighborhood Housing Services and the Minneapolis Urban League have an additional nine roof replacement projects completed or underway through support from Wells Fargo. Urban Homeworks and 60 local youth workers assisted 69 residents with debris removal and garage demolitions. Habitat for Humanity has an additional 18 non-roof related requests for home repair assistance completed or underway. Star Community Partners has 15 home repair contracts signed and in progress, supporting 100 percent local minority owned contractors.  

Heading Home Hennepin, the City/County program to end homelessness, has also provided about $139,000 in assistance to 136 households, primarily in the form of rental assistance to help renters that were displaced by the tornado.

Local architects have also volunteered their services. Rebuilding It Right, a group of architects advocating for quality and appropriate design for buildings damaged in the tornado, have provided no-cost design services for 40 homeowners at a value of more than $50,000

Trees and sidewalks

The May 22 tornado caused extensive damage along a 3.5 mile path in North Minneapolis. In addition to homes, vehicles, street lights, sidewalks and other infrastructure, 2,600 park and boulevard trees were destroyed, along with many trees on private property.

Thanks to donors and volunteers who worked with the Park Board, more than 220 new trees have been planted in the 27-acre Folwell Park, which was hit hard by the tornado. The Park Board will begin planting new boulevard trees in affected neighborhoods in the spring, and in May, it will host Arbor Week, a multi-day volunteer planting effort that welcomes neighborhood residents along with corporate and community partners.

In October, the City completed repairs to sidewalks damaged by the tornado. Around 1,600 sidewalk panels were damaged when the tornado cut through north Minneapolis, and around 600 feet of curb was damaged in the tornado and needed to be replaced.

Almost all of this damage was caused when the tornado toppled trees along the sidewalks and curbs, causing the roots to push up the concrete. Repair crews were able to fix these sidewalks after the Park and Recreation Board completed removal of tree stumps and roots.

Business and employment

Following the tornado, the City’s Community Planning and Economic Development Department worked with community partners to immediately assess the damage to business and connect business owners to resources. The City created the Business Recovery Loan Program, to provide financing for building repairs, insurance deductibles, and business losses. So far, $117,000 in loans has been made to 27 affected businesses through this program.

The City and its partners also reached out to the owner of each commercial property that was damaged by the tornado. The majority of businesses have made repairs and reopened, although there are a handful still making repairs to their properties.

Following the tornado, the City began preparing the Penn Avenue North Redevelopment Plan, which will establish a new redevelopment project area designed to not just replace what was lost, but to redevelop in a way that enhances the corridor and creates a vision for what the community can become.  The public will have the opportunity to review the proposed redevelopment plan in the coming weeks, prior to City Council approval.

Schools assist students and families

The Minneapolis Public Schools have continued to support victims of the May 22 tornado. School staff members work directly with affected students and families on recovery and emotional well-being. Through the generous donations collected at the “We Care” event held on August 20th, students were able to receive backpacks full of school supplies to start the school year. Families in need of further assistance are referred to the Northside Tornado Recovery Team.

Helping tornado victims deal with the stress of recovery

In addition to damaging homes and trees, tornados can also take a toll emotionally and mentally on people that last long after the storm. Surviving a tornado can create feelings of stress, anxiety and fear as people deal with loss, clean-up and repair. NorthPoint Behavioral Health, in conjunction with the City and Hennepin County, is reaching out to people on the North Side who may need help coping with the aftermath of the tornado. For assistance and referral, folks can call the Tornado Recovery Hotline at 612-787-3730. Families can call NorthPoint Behavioral Health at 612-543-2566 to get information about NorthPoint services or for an appointment.

Last updated Nov. 21, 2011