Officials detail rerouted buses, 'exclusion zone' in tornado-hit areaby Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Following Sunday's tornado that heavily damaged an area of north Minneapolis, officials closed off a perimeter around the neighborhood and rerouted local buses to help cleanup efforts and move residents efficiently.
The exclusion zone, which residents pass through checkpoints to get into, stretches from 42nd Avenue on the north to West Broadway on the south, a distance of about 20 blocks. The boundary on the east is mainly Lyndale Avenue, and on the west is principally Penn Avenue, a stretch of about 16 blocks.
No longer closed to the public is an area bordered by Plymouth Avenue and Golden Valley Road.
Megan Goodmundson reported she is OK, but her north Minneapolis house is missing its roof and there's other damage as well. But it's all fixable, she said.
She left her neighborhood in the exclusion zone Monday morning to go get supplies and needed to get back promptly.
"Coming back into the neighborhood, it was completely blocked off, and we had a real hard time getting in on some of the major roads," Goodmundson said. She said after talking to police officers in the area and told them a contractor and insurance adjuster was waiting for her at her house they let her in.
Terra Cole, who also lives in the exclusion zone, said she was not harmed, and none of her property was damaged in the storm. She hasn't had any trouble getting around but has heard accounts from family and friends of "some" people being challenged more closely than others.
Cole said the storm damage is serious but the size of the exclusion zone is too big, including areas not affected.
"I would say that there is a need for safety and I think the emergency preparedness response is appropriate to the level of danger, but that it's being imposed and enforced in areas where it's not necessary," Cole said.
Another north Minneapolis resident, Tracy Batsell, said she couldn't reach her sister, who lives a few blocks away, by phone. She tried to drive to her sister's house. She pulled up behind a police car and told the officer her situation and, in her panic, couldn't remember her sister's house number.
Batsell said the officer escorted her car through the damaged neighborhood until she found her sister.
"It's really a rather rattling experience because I know people have said it before, but it really looks like a bomb exploded in that area," Batsell said.
Earlier Monday, Metro Transit officials started rerouting buses to streets not blocked by storm damage. Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland said bus route No. 5, the system's busiest, was rerouted. Four other lines — 7, 14, 19 and 22, and suburban express routes 721 and 724 — were also rerouted.
Siqveland said as crews clear streets, the routes are changing.
"Just monitoring the situation, our detours have changed a number of times between the storms last night and this morning," Siqveland said. "So we're working with the city to bring those routes as close to normal as possible as the situation develops."
On Monday afternoon, Minneapolis Public Schools officials said school buses wouldn't be able to drop students off in the exclusion zone, and instead families should pick up their students at school.
Students who live outside of the zone would be transported home as usual and buses would take longer than usual to complete their afternoon runs.
School staff was told to wait at the schools until all students are picked up by a parent, guardian or emergency contact.
EXCLUSION ZONE DETAILS
The Minneapolis Police Department in cooperation with other city departments has developed an exclusion zone in the hardest hit areas of North Minneapolis into which only residents will be allowed once the areas are considered to be safe.
Checkpoints are located at the following intersections:
• 42 Avenue North and Lyndale Avenue North
• Dowling Avenue North and Lyndale Avenue North
• Lowry Avenue North and Lyndale Avenue North
• 26th Avenue North and Fremont Avenue North
• West Broadway and Fremont Avenue North
• Penn Avenue North and Golden Valley Road
• Oak Park/ Thomas Avenue North
• Golden Valley Road and Xerxes Avenue South
• Penn Avenue North and 12th Avenue North
• Penn Avenue North and 26th Avenue North
• Penn Avenue North and Lowry Avenue North
• Penn Avenue North and Dowling Avenue North
• 42nd Avenue North and Humboldt Avenue North
Non-residents, including the media, will not be permitted into the exclusion zone until such time as city services can support such traffic.