Forada on the mend, but it hasn’t been easy
It’s been just over three months since a tornado ripped through Forada in west-central Minnesota. Since then, the town of around 160 people has been on the mend, but it hasn’t been easy.
With estimated winds as high as 120 mph, the Forada neighborhood closest to Maple Lake suffered the brunt of the damage from the EF-2 tornado. Tons of debris ended up in the water.
In late June, over a three-day period, cleanup crews removed over 100 cubic meters of construction and demolition waste from the lake. Today, most of the shoreline is clear, but there are still a few collection piles visible. Douglas County Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush said it will take years for Maple Lake and the town of Forada to get back to how it was.
The day after the storm, Derek Lindquist was busy removing debris and cutting down fallen trees in his yard. Lindquist watched from the porch as the tornado made its way straight towards him.
“I was looking outside with the door open, and you could hear it, it’s like they say, it sounds like a freight train coming, I knew then it was time to head downstairs. ground,” he said.
Fascinated by tornadoes from a young age, Lindquist tried to look out the basement window to see what was going on outside, but when his ears popped he decided to huddle in a corner of the basement. He said the commotion lasted five to eight seconds before complete silence and his ears finally tuned in to the sound of dripping water.
“I was like, ‘Well, that wasn’t so bad.’ And then I got there, looked around and it was kind of a complete disaster,” Lindquist said.
Months later, he is still dealing with the after effects. And the costs were not purely financial.
“I went to work as usual, and work here and clean up, and after about four straight weeks, I finally took some time off from work. It got a little emotional,” he said. “I’m still a little pissed off. sometimes.”
Lindquist’s neighbors helped him deal with the trauma of that day which he says left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.
One of the ways he deals with stress is by swimming in the lake daily. Lindquist says he loves the water and uses the lake as therapy. He regularly spends a few hours a day submerged in it, swimming and removing what he estimates to be a total of a few thousand pounds of shingles, torn from nearby roofs.
Now surrounded by broken windows, mold and structural damage to her home, Lindquist waits for her insurance company before she can fix it and move on.
“We have issues with the insurance, they want to keep bickering over how much it will cost to fix,” he said. “I know other people have it way worse, sometimes I think it would have been easier if it just took the whole fucking house.”
Down the road, Steve Archbold and his wife were also home the day of the tornado, and like Lindquist, he felt his ears too, as well as his eyes.
“When a storm or something like that happens, you’re never prepared for it, no matter what you think you’re ready for. When it happens, it’s very shocking,” he said.
Archbold believes people need self-care and attention to get over what happened emotionally.
“Beyond the financial loss, your personal health is quite important. A lot of people are still hurting. And it’s not money related. It’s just the trauma of what they’ve been through,” said said Archbold. “When you’re trying to get your stuff back together, the first thing you do is try to look at your insurance and see if you can get help there to get back to where you were, or even partially get back to where you were. where you were.”
Archbold was also retained by his insurance company.
“My advice to people trying to figure out what to do to prepare for something like this, you need to know what your insurance coverage is,” he said. “You have to keep your numbers up to date. The cost of replacement has increased dramatically over the past few years. And for people who haven’t updated coverages, I would say a fair number of people will be underinsured if a storm hits their property, and it’s a terrible position to be in.
Archbold said he felt very uncomfortable during the first storm after the tornado. That night he was in bed with his wife and nudged her to ask if she was okay. Archbold said neither of them were, and they both stayed awake until the storm passed.
At Forada City Hall, Mayor David Reller says that now that most of the debris has been cleared, the biggest problem facing the city is restoring the landscape.
“Our long-term challenges, how do we recover the trees? Does anyone have beautiful, mature trees they would like to donate to? We have lost huge tree treasures,” Reller said. “Passing through Forada Beach Road, everything is open. We had forests, we no longer have forests.
Reller said there was a lot of consternation among residents about the slow response to insurance claims.
“I don’t know if it’s just standard operating procedure for insurance companies, but we just heard a lot of nightmares,” he said.
He also heard from residents that they had difficulty negotiating with many insurance companies and that companies were reluctant to make commitments. On a positive note, Reller was impressed with the effectiveness of the cleanup efforts.
“We had a terrific response from the county – Dave Rush, Julie Anderson, county commissioners – they were just superb in responding to our needs,” Reller said. “They were able to provide dumping areas for all the trees, but they also took responsibility for the litter in the lake. There was a huge amount of trash. »
Back at the lake, Mike Grove says he’s one of the lucky ones. A towering cottonwood pierced through his roof, piercing down to the basement, but he was unharmed. Her insurance company was quick to respond and very supportive. Especially when it came time to remove the tree, which cost around $27,000.
Although everything was eventually resolved, Grove criticizes how much of the cleanup burden falls on individual owners, especially when it comes to personal expenses.
“I think the city, if I had one recommendation, it’s just to have a better disaster plan. You can predict these things could happen,” Grove said. “With that in mind, every city should sit down and say, ‘OK, if something like this happens, what are we going to do? What is the plan?’ And then know it from start to finish so that you sort of practice.
Grove said following the tornado, he was in love with how the community came together.
And a special moment stays with him.
“Long after everything was forgotten about that storm, the only thing I will remember is that the firefighters came and brought me a hot dog and a can of beer,” he said. declared. .’ You know, I mean, there was a lot of kindness, but it was just at a time when I was like, ‘I could use a beer.’ It was, they just showed up.”