Willing workers pour into Glenville

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 5, 2001

GLENVILLE – Clad in orange vests, the crew of eight plodded west on Main Street, collecting piles of jagged shingles and splintered two-by-fours off the boulevard.

Saturday, May 05, 2001

GLENVILLE – Clad in orange vests, the crew of eight plodded west on Main Street, collecting piles of jagged shingles and splintered two-by-fours off the boulevard. By 3 p.m. Friday, they had made their way past shattered buildings and fallen trees from one end of town to the other.

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The crew was a sentence-to-service group from Freeborn County – doing community service as part of a criminal sentence.

But that didn’t mean they weren’t glad to lend a hand.

&uot;I think we should go clean up after tornadoes all the time,&uot; said one crew member, who wore a blue bandana on his head and gripped a steel rake. &uot;It’s good that people are helping out.&uot;

Similar crews from Mower, Rice and other nearby counties have spent time in Glenville since Tuesday’s tornado, said Freeborn County sentence-to-service coordinator Janelle Van Engelenburg.

The Freeborn County crew followed a sheriff’s department escort, loading debris into the shovel of a Caterpillar.

&uot;We’re just trying to clear the streets,&uot; Van Engelenburg said.

Help has come to Glenville from all directions in the last four days. Salvation Armies from Albert Lea and Austin served meals until Friday. Red Cross volunteers coordinated clean-up. Municipal employees from Hayward, Emmons, Albert Lea and other area cities took shifts while their Glenville counterparts tended their own property. And volunteers from Albert Lea, Owatonna, Rochester and across Freeborn County have dropped in to help.

Their progress has been noticeable. Most streets are cleared of branches and other debris, and fire trucks moved up and down the roads, spraying them with water. Broken windows are boarded up, yards are tidied and damaged trees have been felled.

As power and phone service has been restored, and National Guardsmen left their posts at the town’s borders, the area has opened up to more outside help.

Jo Dagestad of Emmons took a vacation day from work and spent four hours in Glenville Friday afternoon. She helped the owner of a flattened car wash sort through his possessions and raked a woman’s yard.

&uot;I know a bunch of people that live there,&uot; said Dagestad, whose children went to high school in Glenville. &uot;I thought, let’s do the neighborly thing and go help them.&uot;

Dagestad spent the afternoon with another woman, who had returned to Glenville from Colorado to visit her father.

&uot;We were just walking around and seeing what needs to be done,&uot; Dagestad said.

Others had a clear mission. Hayward Fire Department volunteers have been on the scene since day one controlling traffic, allowing heavy equipment to make their way safely through the streets. Three Hayward firefighters were in Glenville Friday.

&uot;I hadn’t been down here yet and it’s my turn,&uot; said firefighter Gene Jenson. &uot;The locals need their breaks, too.&uot;

Since sporadic rains tapered off by Friday morning, more people have arrived to help and crews have been able to work faster, said Red Cross representative Imogene Opdahl.

&uot;We’ve had a tremendous response,&uot; Opdahl said.

Stan Bremseth, owner of damaged Stan’s Market, agreed.

&uot;It’s been unreal,&uot; he said.

The Tribune’s Jeff Mulfinger contributed to this report.