Weather Forecast


Fatigue setting in for Wadena residents

Joyce Brasel, a volunteer from Perham, helps clean debris from a yard Monday in Wadena after Thursday's tornado. Photo by Dave Wallis / The Forum

Glenn St. Marie's first thought when he woke up Monday was: "I don't want to get up and face this crap."

For St. Marie and other residents affected by Thursday's tornado, fatigue was sinking in as they continued removing downed trees and sorting through debris left by the storm.

"It's exhausting," said Darcy Fink, another resident of the hardest-hit southwest side of town. "I'm so tired."

Mayor Wayne Wolden asked residents at a public meeting Monday to take a deep breath and be patient.

Steve Carbno, disaster coordinator for the Salvation Army of Cass and Clay Counties, urged residents to use mental health services that are available.

"The adrenaline is wearing off, folks," Carbno said. "You can see it in our faces."

Residents did get some help Monday from more than 400 volunteers who showed up to register at the former Pamida parking lot eager to help.

However, officials aren't putting out a call for groups of volunteers until they're better able to handle them.

"We greatly appreciate the outpouring of support, caring and compassion," said Judy Jacobs, public information officer. "But at this point, it's not safe to bring in large numbers of volunteer groups."

Officials will release information about a coordinated day for volunteers when they want large numbers of people, Jacobs said.

Residents' friends and families from around the region continued pitching in, too.

"We've had so much help. Everyone's really, really good," said resident Tina Schluttner, who took advantage of having no roof Monday by grilling in her living room.

The focus of cleanup was on removing tree debris, with 35 trucks hauling out trees and branches all day.

Many Wadena residents went back to work Monday and businesses without tornado damage were open.

"We're trying to get back to business as usual, while keeping safety in mind," said Kay Browne, a city council member and manager of Wadena's visitor center.

Janet Jacobson, who works for a day care at the elementary school, said the day care was open and workers saw about half the number of kids they typically do.

"We felt it was important that parents could go back to work," Jacobson said.

Workers from Otter Tail-Wadena County Community Action kept busy Monday finding temporary housing for people.

Diane Leaders, family services director, said there was an outpouring of people willing to provide short-term housing for tornado victims. Now Community Action is helping find long-term housing for residents, Leaders said.

The Red Cross has reopened a shelter at Immanuel Lutheran Church in case someone needs a place to stay. No one used it Sunday night, but it was going to be open at least through Monday night.

"We want to make sure no one has to sleep in their car or a tent," said Beth Bromen, executive director of the Central Minnesota Red Cross chapter.

Roger Smith of Bemidji spent Monday volunteering, hauling debris and clearing yards.

"The people we helped had a really good attitude," said Smith, an over-the-road truck driver. "I don't know how I would deal with it if I had a house in here."

Seth Gardner, a volunteer with Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, said one of the greatest needs is for people to walk fields and clear debris so farmers can work in them.

Several faith-based volunteer groups from the region are set up in Wadena. The Salvation Army and Red Cross are also stationed in Wadena, driving through the neighborhoods and handing out food and water and providing mental health counseling.

Even with people returning to some of their routines, things are certainly not back to normal.

"It's not going to be normal around here for a long time," said resident Judi Barry. "Everybody's still in a daze."