Hugo residents remember 2008 tornado, rebuilding - KMSP-TV

Hugo residents remember 2008 tornado, rebuilding

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HUGO, Minn. (KMSP) -

Residents of Hugo, Minn. have rebounded very well since an EF-3 tornado hit the area in 2008. Five years later, the anniversary of the tornado is approaching and residents and city leaders say what they're seeing in Oklahoma brings back memories.

"Life does go on and proof is here in Hugo that you can rebuild after a tornado," affirmed Hugo City Administrator Bryan Bear.

Memories of destruction are the only remnants Hugo residents are left to clean up. The EF-3 tornado that tore through the city five years ago took the life of a child and severely injured at least eight people.

Bear told FOX 9 the neighborhoods hit the hardest were predominantly single-family neighborhoods. Anywhere between 26-50 homes were leveled or remained uninhabitable for years.

The Creek View Preserve neighborhood was one of the hardest hit. For Gina Duncanson, an EMT and Firefighter in Hugo, it took 10months before she, her husband, and three children could move back into their home.

"The devastation of the loss in our neighborhood -- that's something I will never get over," Duncanson said as she held back tears.

Duncanson was driving when the tornado struck.

"Getting into a ditch was not an option, and so I pulled over and pulled to the east, and the van started lifting and all the windows blew out and onto the dash," remembered Duncanson.

She survived without injury, but her home was destroyed.

"It's difficult. There's really varying insurance companies, and we were kind of fighting for everything," she recalled. "It wears you down."

Bear credits the "dramatic" outpouring of support from the community for the city's remarkable recovery, and Duncanson attests Bear is right.

"If there weren't people putting us in the right direction, I don't know what we would've done," she did.

So as a woman who has experienced destruction and trauma herself, Duncanson's heart goes out to survivors in Oklahoma.

"I just really offer them strength and perseverance and faith in their community," she said.

Hopefully, Oklahoma survivors soon will also be able to say memories are all they have left of the pain.

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