North Minneapolis begins another phase of tornado recovery on Sunday as residents plant trees to replace the hundreds felled by the storm four months ago.
The nonprofit organization Tree Trust is distributing 300 trees to property owners who signed up to buy them at $20 each, a bargain considering the big, mature trees usually sell for at least $150 each, Tree Trust CEO Sue Gethner says.
Residents were allowed to purchase a maximum of two trees per piece of property.
Gether says it will take years of planting to return damaged neighborhoods to the way they once looked, and her organization wants to stay the course.
"We will be very happy to do a lot more work in the spring of next year and the fall of next year, as long as it takes to get trees back in the ground," she said. "We'd like to focus our efforts going forward is working much more closely with the owners of property that is rented out, whether it's single-family or multiple-family housing."
Pickup begins at noon Sunday, and ends at 4 p.m. at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board headquarters, 2117 W. River Road. On Monday it will be open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the same location. There will be a short presentation at the distribution site, with City Council Member Don Samuels, Tree Trust, and other partners.
In the meantime, city inspectors are trying to determine how many homes in the tornado damage zone remain unrepaired, so they can assess how to best help those people who still need assistance before winter sets in.
"There are a number of properties that we still see in the tornado impact area that have blue tarps on their roofs," said director of housing inspections Tom Deegan, who said the city wants to know why.
Hundreds of recently released storm-related documents show that while city officials responded quickly to the tornado and took steps to search for victims and provide emergency services, their ability to inform increasingly distraught residents was plagued by communication problems and a lack of electrical power.