Officials tour damage; Gov. says special session possibleby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
As residents were beginning to survey to their homes, officials were touring the damage from Sunday's tornado in Hugo. Gov. Pawlenty held open the possibility of a special session, if it was needed to secure emergency funds.
Hugo, Minn. — Residents of the hardest hit areas of Hugo, Minn. were allowed back into their neighborhoods this afternoon.
They are being given five hours to survey the damage to their homes, collect belongings and secure their property. However they must leave the area again by 6 p.m.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty toured the damaged area, along with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Earlier in the day, Sen. Norm Coleman visited the site.
The governor said investigators are still documenting the losses to determine whether funds from FEMA could be used. If not, the governor kept open the possibility of calling a special session, should state resources need to be accessed.
Pawlenty and Klobucahr toured the city on foot and in a helicopter. He said the state will consider assisting the city.
"We'll have to assess the damage of course, and in many cases these are private homes with insurance, so that will help. We've always stepped in as a state and provided some help in these situations, usually, so I'm sure that will be coming," Pawlenty said.
The governor spoke to reporters at Oneka Elementary School, a fairly new building that was spared any damaged and has served as a central command for most of the day. That's where residents have checked in, reported missing pets, gotten food and other items.
Aside from houses that were, as one official put it, "exploded" from the winds, many other houses also sustained heavy hail damage.
Media were scheduled to be allowed into the barricaded areas at 3 p.m.
- All Things Considered, 05/26/2008, 5:20 p.m.