Storm damage in North Minneapolis (Photos courtesy of Asian Media Access)
AAP staff report
The community is just emerging nearly a week after severe thunderstorm and tornado struck North Minneapolis last Sunday, leaving power and communication crews along with workers concerned families struggling to navigate tree and debris strewn streets that took days to clear.
Ange Hwang, executive director of Asian Media Access, which is located at 2418 Plymouth Avenue North, near the worst hit neighborhoods, said the building was pummeled with tree branches and heavy rain driven by the strong winds. There were 45 youth dancers in the building when it lost the power after the 2:00 p.m. storm.
“Luckily, the emergency lights were up, and so we had no panicked kids running around,” she added. “Although it’s a terrible disaster, I feel so blessed that we all are safe!”
“We are so lucky at our block,” she said. “Just a block away from our building – north, east and west – all got hit badly.”
Following the terrifying storm, Hwang attempted to reach her husband, Steve, for help in getting the building back in order. She said the roads were all blocked by trees and she finally returned to the building and waited for two hours until they were cleared enough for Steve to come to rescue them.
Hwang said they used cell phones to call parents and those that could answer said it took up to two hours to come get their children in a ride that should normally have taken minutes.
After inspecting the Asian Media Access building, Hwang said the basement was flooded but that the computer lab, equipment, windows and structure all appeared to be fine.
It took Hwang until Wednesday to contact her students. The power and communications came back on late Tuesday and have not yet been restored by to all areas. She was anxious to learn the status of her students after hearing some of the families in the area were hit very hard.
Once Hwang was able to reach her students on Wednesday, she learned that the homes of Kong Her and Bonnsy Vue suffered severe damage, and that they are now living with relatives.
The storm impact may delay the planned graduation for the youth dancers. Still, Hwang said that everyone was very grateful to be safe even though the storm has impacted many of families already facing financial difficulty and disparities.
But we have remained strong and coming together to support one and another, but most importantly we hope the public assistance will be allocated fairly among all victims in North Minneapolis. Especially, the attention should be paid to the silent minority – Asian American families, we usually seek help from family members first, but this time the damage is so severe, we will need all the help we can get.”
The American Red Cross, in partnership with the City of Minneapolis, sheltered more than 200 people last night at the National Guard Armory in Northeast Minneapolis. The shelter will continue to be open tonight. Those needing assistance getting to the shelter should call 3-1-1.
Since the storms hit, more than 80 local Red Crossers have worked around the clock providing food, shelter and emotional support to those affected in the northern metro area. Red Cross damage assessment teams canvassed the affected area inspecting 227 dwellings and will continue.