Friday afternoon tornado relief update
Here are some developments today in the Wadena tornado relief effort:
A meeting will be held today at 3 p.m. at St. Ann's Parish Center, open to all citizens who want to hear about the effort. It's a chance to get an update and ask questions. All are welcome.
The governor is now in Wadena surveying damage. When his visit concludes, the Wadena City Council is expected to pass an emergency declaration in a special meeting. This one is not designed for the public.
There have been 34 people who received medical care from Tri-County Hospital. Two were admitted, one of them has already been discharged.
Everyone who was displaced and had to spend the night at the Armory last night has found a place to stay.
Asked why some people weren't allowed to go into their homes, Police Chief Bruce Uselman pointed out, "Some people don't have homes. There's no home there."
Uselman also described southwest Wadena as "a war zone."
Debris on the roads is causing trouble for emergency vehicles: there are a lot of flat tires because of nails and other foreign objects piercing the tires.
Tri-County Hospital is practicing water conservation, and city officials said it's not a bad idea for citizens. But there's nothing wrong with the water -- it's drinkable.
The storm opened an anhydrous ammonia leak at Leaf River Ag last night. The leak has been slowed but not stopped. It's still leaking a little, said Fire Chief Dean Uselman.
Many gas leaks have been stopped, but little ones keep popping up. So far, fire crews are keeping up with them.
The estimate on the number of homes damaged or destroyed has grown. It is now 232.
The emergency management committee will meet tonight at 9 p.m. at city hall. That is not open to questions or audience participation, and seating is limited.
Personal observation: trains are moving incredibly slowly through town, exacerbating a heavy traffic situation.
The first siren rang out at 4:24 p.m. Thursday. At 5 p.m. a sheriff's deputy spotted a tornado southwest of the city. The estimate of touchdown in the city is 5:10 p.m.
Clearing and cleaning up the streets is priority one in the effort right now. "It's like a nuclear blast," said Bruce Uselman. "There's stuff all over the place."
More updates as conditions change.