While we celebrate the work that has been done and the relationships that have been built, we recognize that many issues that existed in north Minneapolis were exacerbated by the tornado and will take a long and concentrated time to work through. The tornado was the catalyst to bring individuals and organizations together who are committed to the health of north Minneapolis for the long haul.
A Community Devastated
In the early evening of May 22, 2011, the 37th and Emerson Avenue intersection in north Minneapolis served as a rendezvous point for a few members of the Urban Homeworks team who live in the neighborhood. Chainsaws in hand, the team members bounced around, assisting residents whose lives had just been disrupted by the tornado that ripped through the heart of north Minneapolis. The tornado was devastating, damaging 3,700 of the 7,000 properties in the area, but its power proved unable to destroy the fabric of community woven throughout the neighborhood. It was awe-inspiring to see neighbors lighting up grills and breaking bread together before their food spoiled while they sought comfort in the stability of their relationships. The collective response of the neighborhood was one of pain, but even more than that, it was determination and goodwill.
That following week, Urban Homeworks worked together with other neighborhood organizations to coordinate more than 3,000 volunteers to clean up major debris. We continued to work with the City of Minneapolis and coordinated nearly 595 additional volunteers and trainees for debris clean-up throughout the summer. As winter approached, Urban Homeworks continued working with the Housing Task Force of the Northside Community Response Team (NCRT) to make sure roofs with tarps were repaired as well as to meet emerging needs, like roof repair for houses where property owners were having trouble making the repairs. Over 60 organizations combined forces to identify and meet needs that remained months after the tornado struck.
A Year Later
Today, one year later, the number of needs for repairs and imrpvements has diminshed significantly. $4 million in assistance from city, state, federal, nonprofit and private sources, along with the dedicated teamwork of many committed individuals and organizations has contributed to recovey in north Minneapolis.
The tornado didn’t change the trajectory of Urban Homeworks, but it did allow us to go deeper into what being a neighbor is really about. We have witnessed amazing teamwork and support. Now, a year later we, as a community, can proudly say that the number of damaged homes has dwindled to 103 homes with remaining roof damage. Of those, 47 have repairs in progress or have been granted extensions, 44 are vacant and 12 may be occupied, but have not responded to repeated outreach efforts. Of the 12, 9 are owner-occupied and 3 are rented. We went from 3,700 to 12.
Thank you for your part in the journey to recovery from the 2011 tornado. It could not be done alone and the health of north Minneapolis cannot be restored alone. We need you.
Share your story or role in the tornado recovery on our blog.
*Urban Homeworks put $547,509 on the ground for tornado recovery. Funds were used for home repair, debris clean-up and other assistance. For more information,
What is the Northside Community Response Team (NCRT)?
The NCRT is a collaboration of organizations including government entities, nonprofits and private businesses. The group was born out of people recognizing the need to work together, immediately following the Northside tornado. Each of the 40+ contributing organizations has contributed something unique that added to the whole and strengthened the Team’s ability to respond effectively. The collaborative initially focused on meeting the variety of needs resulting from the storm.
Today, the NCRT Core Team is still meeting to collaborate on how to reduce the Northside’s dependence on Hennepin County Social Services by 25% in the next 5 years (currently 67% of north Minneapolis is dependent on county services, not including corrections). Together, we are committed to the long-term health of north Minneapolis, even after the tornado damage has been addressed.
NCRT Core Team Members
Louis King (Core Team Chair), President & CEO of Summit Academy
Chanda Baker, President & CEO of Pillsbury United Communities
Bruce Bjork, Summit Consultant, Poverty Reduction Program & Executive Director, Program Development of Minneapolis Council of Churches
Rev. Richard Coleman, Executive Director of Sanctuary Community Development Center
Bill English, Independent Consultant
Al Flowers, NAACP
George Garnett, Director of Strategic Development at Summit Academy
Scott Gray, President & CEO of Minneapolis Urban League
Dr. Peter Hayden, Founder & CEO of Turning Point Inc.
Alysen Nesse, VISTA Volunteer at Summit Academy
Chad Schwitters, Executive Director of Urban Homeworks
Stella Whitney-West, CEO of NorthPoint Health & Wellness