2nd Death Reported After Minneapolis TornadoA man using a chainsaw to help clear a tree from a blocked roadway collapsed and died, his family said Monday, a second confirmed death related to a tornado that tore through Minneapolis over the weekend, injuring dozens of people and destroying hundreds of homes.
By: Tara Bannow, Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A man using a chainsaw to help clear a tree from a blocked roadway collapsed and died, his family said Monday, a second confirmed death related to a tornado that tore through Minneapolis over the weekend, injuring dozens of people and destroying hundreds of homes.
Family and friends of Rob MacIntyre said the 53-year-old collapsed about 6 p.m. Sunday, not long after helping clear the tree that was toppled by the tornado. Dave Soderstrom, who had been helping MacIntyre, said paramedics didn't arrive immediately because they had to travel on foot through impassable streets.
"They worked on him for 45 minutes," Soderstrom said. "They tried everything multiple times. He just didn't revive. He didn't react to anything."
MacIntyre was president of the Iowa-based Raptor Resource Project, the organization behind an "Eagle Cam" in Decorah that has attracted worldwide attention over the Internet. The group issued a statement mourning his death.
Residents seemed to be in shock Monday as they emerged from their homes and saw toppled trees, missing garages, roofs on the ground and dangling power lines, all left behind after Sunday's tornado, which killed two people — including MacIntyre — and left 29 injured.
The tornado ripped a nearly five-mile path from suburban St. Louis Park, where it hit a condo complex and two businesses, through north Minneapolis, into Fridley. The National Weather Service said Monday that the tornado was either a strong EF1 or possibly an EF2, and was on the ground for 6.25 miles in Hennepin County plus an additional 8 miles across Anoka and Ramsey counties. An EF1 tornado has speeds of up to 109 mph. An EF2 has speeds of 110-137 mph.
City crews also were clearing debris block by block as they tallied the number of north Minneapolis homes damaged. A spokesman for Mayor R.T. Rybak said there were no immediate damage estimates available. As of 2 p.m. Monday, 8,600 customers were still without power as a result of the storm, Xcel Energy said.
Gov. Mark Dayton, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and other political leaders toured the damage with Rybak. Afterward, Dayton, a Democrat, said he's ready to help.
"We're going to do everything possible as a state to support the city," Dayton told reporters at the Capitol in St. Paul.
The governor said he was prepared to consider a special legislative session to pass disaster relief. Later Monday he issued an executive order saying the National Guard Armory would remain open for the more than 200 people who were displaced.
Klobuchar said she saw a lot of damaged homes and businesses but her main concern was for all the people whose lives have been "twisted and turned, and turned upside down." She said officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are already assessing the damage, and that the city might be eligible for up to $6.9 million in federal disaster aid, as well as individual and small-business loans.
"I'm confident we're going to rebuild this community and make it better than before," said Ellison, who lives in north Minneapolis.
Seven schools in north Minneapolis and all Fridley public schools were closed Monday because of tornado damage. All except one were expected to be open on Tuesday.
National Weather Service meteorologist Diane Cooper said damage assessment crews were out Monday trying to determine the number and strength of the tornadoes in Minnesota. That hadn't been determined by Monday evening.
The tornado was part of a larger outbreak through the central U.S. that included Joplin, Mo. — where dozens were killed — and La Crosse, Wis.
Also Monday, authorities released the name of a man who died during Sunday's storm when he was hit by a tree branch that came through the window of his minivan. Authorities identified him as 59-year-old Floyd David Whitfield.
His girlfriend, Leverne Dorsey, 45, said he was returning home from church and had one child in the minivan at the time of the storm. The boy was injured. His condition was unknown Monday.
Despite the devastation, many were glad they survived.
Nancy Coleman was on her stairway when the tornado ripped an entire side off her home, leaving her and the interior exposed to the elements. Yet Coleman escaped injury, and while she was still distraught and tearful Monday, she was also vowing to rebuild.
"I'm not moving. I like north Minneapolis," Coleman said, citing the diversity of the neighborhood and saying she wants all her neighbors to come back. "If I have to rebuild from scratch I will."
Coleman, who has owned the 1906 house for a decade, was one of many residents waiting for an insurance agent to stop by Monday. And she was still hoping her two missing cats would emerge from her damaged home. She had already found three of her cats and locked them in her car for safekeeping.
Addie Smith and his four children counted themselves as fortunate that they weren't among the casualties.
With a tornado just a couple of blocks away, Smith herded three of his children into a hallway. Then he remembered his eight-month-old baby girl was in the bedroom. As debris flew in through the window, he put the baby on the floor and lay on top to protect her.
The house "shook really bad, like a bad roller-coaster ride. I thought the whole house was just going to come apart," Smith recalled Monday.
The tornado ripped off part of the side of the house, exposing the staircase and filling it with debris, Smith said. But neither the 49-year-old nor the children — ages 4, 7 and 10— were injured.
"I thought we was going to die," he said.
Associated Press Writer Amy Forliti contributed to this report.