Residents return to some areas damaged by Sunday’s tornado

Some residents from neighborhoods hardest hit by yesterday’s tornado are being allowed back to their homes after crews and inspectors assessed properties and cleared debris to ensure conditions are safe for people to return. Many people who were displaced by the tornado are being sheltered at the Northeast Armory and the Drake Hotel. In addition, tomorrow folks who need assistance have an opportunity to come to an event that will connect them to resources to get through this difficult time.

Here are the updates for this evening:

People allowed back into their homes: Crews have worked throughout the day to get as many of the affected neighborhoods open as possible so residents can return. Emergency managers have divided the area into three zones, and residents in zone 1 are now allowed to return home. Within these zones, staff have spent the day going block-by-block, door-to-door, assessing damage, evaluating the safety of structures, and clearing debris to reopen streets. As areas are cleared, residents (only residents) will be allowed to return to their homes.

One of the biggest safety concerns is downed power lines, and if people see lines down, they should assume they’re live. Stay away from downed lines and report them to Xcel Energy at 1-800-895-4995.

Housing for affected families: The shelter set up at the Northeast Armory is preparing to accommodate up to 200 people overnight tonight. Hennepin County and the City are working with social service providers to assess the housing needs of people in the shelter to move them into housing for tonight and to work with individual families on long-term solutions. More than two dozen families with children have moved from the shelter to the recently-renovated Drake Hotel Downtown. Additional housing arrangements will be made for others tomorrow.

So far, the shelter has provided services to more than 500 people over the last two days. People on the North Side who have not gone to the shelter but who need assistance can still go to the Armory at 1025 Broadway Ave. If folks need transportation to the Armory, they can go to the Fourth Precinct for assistance, which is located at 1926 Plymouth Ave. N.

Project Connect: Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis are offering a one-day Project Connect: Tornado Assistance Center on Tuesday for county families affected by Sunday’s storms. The event will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Services will be geared to residents impacted by the storm and will include housing and shelter resources, basic health care, mental health care, and legal assistance.

Bus transportation to Project Connect will be provided with trips every half hour from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (the last bus from the Convention Center will leave at 2:30) from three locations: The Family Assistance Center at 1025 Broadway St. NE; NorthPoint Health and Wellness (formerly Pilot City) at 1315 Penn Ave. N.; and Cub Foods at 701 W. Broadway


No curfew:

How the public can help: People throughout Minneapolis and the region have been asking how they can help people affected by the tornado. There are several ways to help:

Donate funds, not goods – The Minneapolis Foundation has established the Minnesota Helps - North Minneapolis Recovery Fund to assist with both short-term and long-term housing and recovery-related needs on the North Side. The Minneapolis Foundation will match donations. To make a donation by credit card, visit http://givemn.razoo.com/story/Northminneapolisrecovery or send checks for the recovery effort to The Minneapolis Foundation, 80 S. 8th St., Suite 800, Minneapolis, MN, 55402. People can also donate to the Red Cross at www.redcrosstc.org. Please do not donate goods at this time.

• In the coming days, volunteers will be needed – There are crews working already in the neighborhoods, but the conditions are not yet safe enough to accommodate volunteers. The City and Urban Homeworks, a local nonprofit, will be making a call to volunteers in the coming days, but at this point it is not safe to bring folks in.

Tree cleanup: Minneapolis Public Works and Park Board crews continue to work in north Minneapolis to make streets passable following yesterday’s tornado. After that work is done, the City and Park Board will provide debris pickup for property owners in the affected area.

Public Works and Park Board crews will collect large debris beginning May 25 through June 10 for properties in the city west of Interstate 94 and north of Highway 55 (Olson Memorial Highway). This service is for property owners clearing their property after storm damage only—it is not for contractors doing work for property owners or for regular tree pruning. Visit the City's website or call 311 for more information.

Published May 23, 2011