Most Hugo residents return to homes as highway reopensby Toni Randolph, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The city of Hugo has allowed most residents to return to their homes, two days after a deadly tornado carved a narrow swath through the city.
Fifty homes were destroyed or declared uninhabitable, and 159 homes sufferedd at least some damage. Officials estimate that damage to personal property totals about $25 million dollars.
Officials are still tallying the damage to public and commercial property, as well as the cost for emergency services.
Highway 61 has reopened and city officials have allowed most residents in the area where the twister hit to return to their homes. They're delivering dumpsters to the area to help homeowners with the clean-up efforts.
Chris Newpower's house suffered damage from the hail storm that immediately followed the tornado. Still, he spent much of the day Monday helping neighbors with tornado damage.
"We just started helping the friends that had houses that were just gone. They just disappeared off the face of the earth," Newpower said." "So, we've just been sifting through rubble and looking for pictures and any momentos we can find for them and put them in bins and then we just start over."
Kim Salo was away when the tornado hit. She got her first look at the damage when she returned Monday.
"It's a lot better than I think a lot of people in the neighborhood and we're thankful for that," she said. "There's a lot of people that are worse off. We lost part of the roof, but it's brick and mortar and wood and plaster and it can be replaced."
Officials are delivering a few dozens dumpsters to the area, so homeowners can get rid of the debris from the tornado. Trained volunteers are offering to help homeowners with the clean-up efforts.
Meanwhile, city officials are putting restrictions on contractors who will help with repair work. They must obtain city-issued credentials in order to work in the tornado-damaged area. They say this will help prevent contractors from preying on homeowners.