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Published June 23 2010

Forum editorial: Tornado response heartening

The responses, both official and voluntary, to the aftermath of last week’s tornadoes in Minnesota and North Dakota confirm the spirit of community. Storm damage from near Northwood, N.D., to Wadena, Minn., was severe. Lives were lost. But almost as soon as the winds diminished and the dark clouds scudded away, neighbors, friends and strangers turned out to help.

The outbreak of storms was as bad as spring weather gets in the region. Up to 20 tornadoes were spotted in northeast North Dakota. As many as 35 roared across a wide swath of Minnesota, which might be a record going back to 1965. Wadena, a city of 4,300, was hit hardest.

Thus far, all potential resources have been mobilized to address the damage, accomplish the cleanup and begin the process of helping people put their lives, homes and businesses back together. That last challenge is always the most difficult after a storm disaster. It takes time to assess damage and coordinate private and public sources of funding.

Meanwhile, the volunteer effort has shifted into high gear. In Wadena, for example, more than 400 showed up Monday morning. Once authorities opened access to storm-damaged Wadena and other places in both states, volunteers mobilized quickly to help with everything from cleaning up broken trees and smashed buildings to preparing and distributing food for workers to securing shelter for displaced families.

And, as usual in natural disasters, the work of the Salvation Army, Red Cross, National Guard and other private and public agencies has been exemplary.

It’s a monumental task, not only because the storm damage is severe but also because the storms struck over such a wide area of two states. Officials in the several storm-hit areas will coordinate the volunteers, calling for large numbers when needed. Stay tuned and be ready to help when the call goes out.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.