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Long Term Recovery to end with art exhibit, community gathering

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The Wadena-Otter Tail Long Term Recovery Committee (WOTLTRC) is wrapping up its last days in the downstairs of the Bernauer building with a photo exhibit and a future celebration planned.

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Volunteer Coordinator Tanya Nelson said they have enough funding to stay in the building through Aug. 31.

The lower level of Bernauer is also home to ArtsPlace, where WOTLTRC will hold an exhibit of tornado recovery-related aerial photos for two weeks. The exhibit is scheduled to open today and will end Aug. 31, when WOLTRC itself also ends.

Additionally, a community gathering is set tentatively for Oct. 14 at Sunnybrook Park to remember and celebrate the progress of tornado recovery.

"The park was chosen because it stands alongside the location where the debris files first gathered immediately after the tornado," Nelson said. "It will be open to the entire community."

WOTLTRC was formed in the weeks after June 17, 2010 EF4 tornadoes devastated areas of Wadena and eastern Otter Tail County.

Nelson said as of Wednesday, WOTLTRC has raised and distributed nearly $800,000, helped 189 families in two counties and worked on 102 homes and numerous cleanup sites.

Nelson said the end of WOTLTRC does not mean all needs have been met, adding that people are still encouraged to reach out to friends and neighbors and stay generous.

Case Manager Wendy Molstad, who is still working with clients, said some people still need roofing, painting, landscaping, installation, drywall and other projects done.

The Rev. Del Moen, WOTLTRC chair, said there is some good news for East Otter Tail County tornado survivors: the DEED Small Cities grant originally meant for only Wadena has been extended to Bluffton Township and Compton Township, where rural residences and farms were hit.

Moen and Nelson said faith organizations, community organizations, governments and businesses have helped the area in its recovery process.

Moen added that WOTLTRC is now helping with disasters outside its own: those behind the committee were invited to Carlton County, which was hit by recent flooding, to share some of what they learned after the Wadena tornado.

They were also invited to a workshop and breakfast for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and Emergency Management.

For the future, Moen said Catholic Charities has talked about possibly starting a mental health service for tornado survivors. The service would be based out of St. Ann's Catholic Church in Wadena.

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