Glenville cleanup effort begins

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 3, 2001

After one day of sifting, sorting and examining the homes and businesses of Glenville, officials estimate damages approaching $2 million.

Thursday, May 03, 2001

After one day of sifting, sorting and examining the homes and businesses of Glenville, officials estimate damages approaching $2 million. But the psychological cost of the tornado that swept through Glenville Tuesday will take months to calculate.

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&uot;There are no easy answers or quick solutions after disaster events. Recovery is more about time, patience and determination than anything else,&uot; said Craig Schafer of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Schafer told a gathering of Glenville residents they were &uot;way ahead in terms of organization&uot; compared to communities such as Comfrey in 1998 and Granite Falls in 2000. Both of those towns were also hit by tornadoes.

&uot;I think they’ve got a great town here,&uot; Schafer said. &uot;Many of us that have been to a few disasters in this state have noticed how quickly they’ve pulled together.&uot;

According to the National Weather Service, the Glenville tornado registered as an F-2, meaning winds reached between 113 and 157 miles per hour. Meteorologist Todd Krause said the tornado’s path was 21 miles long, stretching from Glenville to Lansing, in Mower County.

Glenville Mayor Wes Webb said the town, though damaged badly, had a things going for it. With utilities mostly restored, he said Glenville’s attention must turn to clean up.

&uot;We’re fortunate that we didn’t lose anybody, meaning no serious injuries or deaths. Our water and sewer systems are still intact, we’ve got great security in place and plenty of people to help out,&uot; said Webb, whose own business was destroyed. &uot;Now we have to clean up the mess. We can improve this town if we can stay positive.&uot;

While city and county workers cleared trees and fallen limbs from the town’s roads, residents spent much of the day Wednesday taking pictures and videotaping the damage. Inspector Mike Klukow said about 100 structures in town show evidence of damage ranging from a few shingles and broken windows to complete destruction. The tornado caused major damage to at least 24 structures. The process of obtaining building permits for repairs begins Thursday, he said.

Sue Miller, engineer for the Freeborn County Highway Department, said county workers, with assistance from the city of Albert Lea, will begin helping residents with removal of trees and brush Thursday. Attention will shift Friday to demolition debris, including shingles, metal, furniture, carpet, appliances and other storm-damaged items.

&uot;When we start a cleanup like this, we need to focus on the people who need help,&uot; Miller said, adding that people who see an opportunity to clean out basements and garages shouldn’t try to take advantage of the effort.

&uot;We’re talking about the storm-damaged affected areas of the city only,&uot; said Webb.

An impressive volunteer effort began Wednesday, said Stephanie Smith of VoAD or Volunteers for Action in Disasters. A system is in place to give assignments to people with time or equipment to donate, she said. The Red Cross and Salvation Army were also on hand, offering meals to workers and assistance to families affected by the storm.

Though school was headed back into session Thursday, students at Glenville-Emmons High School were told to bring sturdy shoes and work gloves to school. G-E superintendent Todd Chessmore thinks the older students will best serve the community by volunteering, while younger students are better off in class and out of the way of workers and equipment.

&uot;I feel like the students need to be a part of the solution and the recovery,&uot; Chessmore said.

Nolander said with damage assessment well underway, the security perimeter shrank to surround the Main Street area. State Highway 65, which was closed with barricades, reopened Wednesday evening.

&uot;We plan to continue the patrols with the help of the National Guard,&uot; Nolander said. &uot;It’s easier to get around town now, but we still need to discourage those who have no business here from just showing up to take a look around.&uot;