3 YEARS LATER: Green Homes North project rebuilds in tornado's w - KMSP-TV

3 YEARS LATER: Green Homes North project rebuilds in tornado's wake

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It's hard to believe three years have passed since a devastating tornado swept away parts of north Minneapolis, but even after all this time, neighborhoods are still struggling to rebuild what was lost.

It's impossible to forget the images from May 22, 2011. Residents were forced to climb around fallen and broken trees as they watched neighbors search for other survivors and catalogue the damage. Even now, the trauma is hard to forget.

"Sometimes, it gets emotional," Judy Brosdahl admitted.

Sitting on her porch and going through the memories, Brosdahl said she still feels lucky to be alive.

"Broken window, turned upside down furniture right here on the porch," she recalled.

The home she moved into in 1973 suffered $150,000 in damage.

"Our chimney fell off the house," she said.

Today, those repairs are complete -- but her neighborhood still hasn't come back to its former glory.

"The houses look better. It still looks naked around here," Brosdahl remarked. "People drive by and they don't even recognize the neighborhood."

That's because of the landscape. Decades-old trees were replaced with ones that are just starting off, and on Brosdahl's block alone, two homes were taken down. One has been replaced with a community garden, but the damage at the second is still there. Nothing has been done, and it stands as a daily reminder.

"There are some that need to come down that haven’t come down because of problems like finding ownership," Brosdahl explained.

One of the reason the city started the Green Homes North project was to address the empty lots by building 100 new, green homes.

"Through the Green Homes North program, we identified properties that were tornado damaged, used resources to acquire the properties, demolish hem, and made some of these units available for home ownership," Elfric Porte explained.

Porte said the city set aside $1.25 million for community planning and economic development in the tornado's wake. To date, they have 62 properties and are currently working on 21.

"It's incumbent on the city and our partners to come in, bring our resources together, and try to help stabilize north Minneapolis," Porte said.

In all, Porte estimated that 90 percent of the tornado-damaged properties have been restored, but he admits that restoring the landscape will take a lot longer.

"It's going to take many years before these trees grow up and get to where they were," Brosdahl said.

The city of Minneapolis hopes that in 3-5 years, all the damaged properties will be rehabilitated and reoccupied.

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