The Aftermath of a Twister
One year ago last Tuesday, an EF1 tornado, ripped through North Minneapolis and the northern Twin Cities suburbs, damaging over 3,700 properties, displaced over 400 people, and injured 48 people.
The majority of those affected by the tornado had no homeowners insurance or were under-insured. As damaging as tornadoes can be in an average income area, they are even more harmful in an impoverished place because of recovery expenses.
The past 12 months have been busy with rebuilding properties, relocating families, returning children to schools, and reimbursing people for what they have lost. However, in spite of the city of Minneapolis’s best efforts, there are still complaints about how the recovery was handled. The major challenges were: how quickly aid was distributed, how the city handled sheltering tornado victims in overcrowded facilities, and the lack of communication between city officials and non-profits, and the tornado victims they are working to help.
This month, the City of Minneapolis received $2.8 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), its first installment of disaster relief money. However, FEMA refused to give any individual assistance to tornado victims. This left relief aid efforts up to the city and non-profit organizations, which raised over $2 million together to help those in need.
We live in an area where tornadoes can and often do occur. When there have been so many occasions that relief money from FEMA comes in too late, or only goes so far, it makes sense for the state to enhance its own emergency disaster relief financing. If the state partnered with non-profits in the community, they could establish sites that are better equipped to shelter people whose homes may be damaged or destroyed, and better communication lines for victims to reach relief organizations.
Meteorologists predict that every 40-50 years, tornadoes as powerful as EF4 will hit the Twin Cities metro area. The last time that happened was in 1965, when five tornadoes touched down in the Northwest suburbs of the Twin Cities. It is time for us to restructure our policies on how to cope with the aftermath of a tornado, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to do so quickly in order to avoid making the same mistakes as last year.