Long Term Recovery groups hold celebration at Sunnybrook Park

The release of 27 white doves, which marked the 27-month commitment to tornado recovery in Wadena, highlighted a celebration Sunday at Sunnybrook Park.

Participants in one or more Wadena 2.0 committee meetings who met at Sunnybrook Park on Oct. 14 to commemorate the committee's efforts over the last two years were, from left, Don Niles, Del Moen, Barb Butler, Diane Leaders, Mike Craig, Wayne Wolden, Ann Pate, Richard Ealy, Dan Frank, Sheldon Monson, Mike Pete and John Husband. Not pictured: Ralph Miller. Photo by Doug Wolff/Wolff Images

The release of 27 white doves, which marked the 27-month commitment to tornado recovery in Wadena, highlighted a celebration Sunday at Sunnybrook Park.

The Wadena-Otter Tail Long Term Recovery Committee and the Wadena 2.0 Committee have wrapped up the efforts that began following the tornadoes that swept through Wadena and eastern Otter Tail County on June 17, 2010.

The Wadena-Otter Tail Long Term Recovery Committee, chaired by Rev. Del Moen, was created to address unmet needs of families and individuals. The committee focused on using cash donations to help the uninsured and underinsured.

Assistance was rendered to 190 client families in the two-county area in the form of money, resource referrals, volunteer labor and emotional aftercare and support. Financial help to the tune of $678,993 was distributed to 149 of the families. Figures show much of the money went back to people in the community for building materials, living expenses, clothing, furniture, tornado-related medical costs and general supplies.

Rev. Moen praised the volunteers and donors who helped in the crisis.


"Our community rose to the challenge and really cared for one another and helped one another," Moen said. "We had amazing generosity coming from the whole region."

Volunteers contributed more than 19,900 hours. The committee organized 12,850 hours on on-site rebuilding. The committee itself donated 2,200 hours to meetings and fundraising efforts. The hours contributed through Long Term Recovery are valued at close to $390,000.

"I got a renewed sense of commitment and a renewed sense that people are good," Committee Case Manager Wendy Molstad said. "I didn't realize how much it was going to affect me."

Working closely with Molstad on Long Term Recovery efforts were Construction Supervisor Ted Black and Volunteer Coordinator Tanya Nelson.

The Wadena 2.0 Committee provided an exchange for critical information, spearheaded initiatives to plan for the future and proactively promoted thoughtful, coordinated rebuilding of destroyed public infrastructure, Wadena 2.0 Chairman Don Niles said.

A new hockey arena and a new secondary school have emerged to replace those destroyed by the tornado that hit Wadena. There are also new facilities at the Wadena County Fairgrounds, and a Wellness Center is expected to break ground on the former site of Leaf River Ag Services by the spring of 2013.

"The June 17, 2010 tornado created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild in ways that were not previously possible," Don Niles said. "The hundreds of people who participated in the Minnesota Design Team Visit and attended Wadena 2.0 meetings can be proud that their efforts have assured a strong, vibrant Wadena area community for many years to come."

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