Gone in 30 Seconds--Tornado Changes Lives in Anoka & Washington County, MN

By
Real Estate Agent with Boardman Realty Minnesota License#90858

In under a minute, life changed for so many Twin Cities north metro residents this past weekend. Several of the communities I serve as a Realtor, from Coon Rapids though Blaine, Lino Lakes and Centerville, ending in Hugo, were hit out of a beautiful blue sky by a tornado. Minnesotans should have been on alert all week that conditions were ripe for such an event. And the unthinkable happened; the tornado took with it not only dozens homes but the smile of a two-year-old little boy.

damagedamageOn Monday, only residents were allowed into Hugo for security and safety reasons. There are many photos of the torn apart housing development online already. We did drive by this Centerville farm that was demolished hit just moments prior to crossing 35E into Hugo. The debris from the grain storage bins are still scattered along the shoulder of the freeway on the other side of the huge farm field today.

Read more about the Hugo tornado here.

From the time we are children, we have been taught in Minnesota what to do in severe weather. We participated in tornado drills at schools. We looked to the sky when the sirens are tested on the first Wednesday of the month. My husband and I knew intellectually that tornados could be devastating but we always thought we would be safe in our basement.

Not so anymore as many families across Anoka County and Washington County learned this past weekend. A twister is not a movie or an exciting scene on television. It can be a real event and we cannot be complacent.

We heard the rumble of the storm outside our Ham Lake home about 10 minutes before the sirens went off. I thought it was unusual to hear an airplane flying in this weather...It was the sound of the storm. I clicked on the TV and heard that what appeared to be a tornado had just hit in Coon Rapids and was heading through Blaine with reports of damage near Hwy 65 and Bunker Lake Blvd. Sirens or not, we went to the basement as I was well aware that tornados typically move in a northeastern direction. We appeared to be directly in its path.damage

The alarms sounded just as we were going down the steps in our usual lackadaisical way. We sat at the bottom of the staircase; in fact I was on the steps, ready to head back up as soon as the event was over. We were just mildly concerned as we watched the minute-by-minute storm report on the portable television. The storm had change direction from its northeastern track and was now headed due east. We were thankful that it was no longer heading toward our home.

Being from the north eastern part of the Twin Cities, growing up in North St. Paul and selling homes throughout this area, I made a mental note of people I knew that could now be in the storm's path. A few relatives and friends came to mind. A close friend's business. A cousin and his wife. A young couple who moved into a home I sold last fall.

The storm ripped a line of damage through Anoka and into Washington County and literally blew apart 27 homes in Hugo. From the accounts on the news, the tornado blew through Hugo in 30 seconds. Lives were forever changed in less than a minute.

Over the last couple days, we have found that several of our friends, family members and coworkers were affected by the storm. Most had minor damage. Some lost windows. Many have hail-damaged roofs and siding or fallen trees in their yards. And then there are those who lost everything.damage

As I hear the stories of where people were as the storm hit, many in the safety of their basement, I began to reassess our preparedness for this event. Something about the sound of this particular storm was different so I had instinctively grabbed all of our cell phones as I headed down to the basement. I won't feel so foolish about doing this the next time. My husband and I have now discussed where we plan to sit in the cellar during the next storm (northeast corner ready to head under a sturdy worktable.) We are somewhat thankful that we don't have that prized walkout basement that we always wanted as we have few windows to avoid. We will be safer and more vigilant during the next storm.

It was always someone else, somewhere else...This time the storm was too close and too real for my family to ever be complacent again.

Review Tornado Safety Tips and Facts at the FEMA Website by Clicking HERE.

View footage of the tornado and aftermath on YouTube by Clicking HERE.

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If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2008 Teri Eckholm  http://www.terieckholm.com/

Posted by

Teri Eckholm. REALTOR with Boardman Realty, is a native Minnesotan who has lived and worked in the Minneapolis St Paul metro all of her life. She specializes in lakeshore homes, acreage properties and first time home buyers but assists anyone making a move in the north and east Twin Cities metro.

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give Teri , a call or visit her website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report She specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2019 terieckholm.com

 

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Rainer
104,204
Rosario Lewis
DDR Realty - Newburgh, NY
GRI, SRES - DDR Realty - Orange County, NY

One thing this tornado season is teaching is that their awesome power of destruction must be respected. They produce so much tragic loss in such a short period of time.

May 28, 2008 12:03 PM #8
Rainer
18,528
Pam Holzem
The FireStar Realty Group - Hastings, MN

I am so glad that you and your family are OK. How quickly life can change.

Living in the South Metro the news media had many pictures and stories. I was touched by the story of the man who was searching for his service medals through what was left of his home. I believe it was a Boy Scout who handed him one of the boxes with one of his medals. It meant so much to him. I cried. We continue to keep the victims of this tornado in our prayers. Thanks for the post.

May 28, 2008 12:06 PM #9
Ambassador
1,880,962
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Teri, the speed of the devastation was incredible. I am glad you and your family are all right too. Keep us posted on this story.

May 28, 2008 01:49 PM #10
Ambassador
603,156
Lizette Fitzpatrick
Lizette Realty - Richmond KY - Lexington, KY
Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes

Hi Teri! I was sad when I heard about these tornados. I have lived through one that hit Kentucky in 1974. It's truly amazing how you have to start your life over with absolutely nothing. We lived at the Holiday Inn for a month and everything we had was donated from strangers and friends. It did teach me that at any time I can start over from nothing. I don't hold on to anything too tightly.

May 28, 2008 03:16 PM #11
Rainer
340,913
Kris Wales
Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center - Macomb, MI
Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI

I don't know about anyone else, but I got teary eyed reading this.

Thank God you are all safe and sound and I'll pray for those who have lost so much.

May 28, 2008 10:44 PM #12
Rainmaker
720,487
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Mana--That's not the whole story either...27 homes were totally destroyed but another 19 were damaged beyond repair. Another 400-500 lost roofs, siding and windows. A townhouse complex a few blocks over lost over 200 windows. It is incredible the force of this storm.

May 29, 2008 12:43 AM #13
Rainmaker
720,487
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Jean--We have relatively few tornados in MN...maybe a dozen a year....very few are this severe. We do get damage from hail and straight line winds much more often but little of this type of devastation. Like earthquakes there is no warning and everything is gone. It was amazing the support and assistance the families received immediately after the storm. They put a call out for volunteers for Saturday morning and within hours had the maximum of 500 people signed up...people really care about their neighbors and communities...That's a big positive.

May 29, 2008 12:59 AM #14
Rainmaker
720,487
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Steve--Yes...It this is a bad season for tornados. The national news said that there have been over 1200 reported so far this year. Way more than usual for this early in the year. It changes lives and communities forever.

May 29, 2008 01:01 AM #15
Rainmaker
720,487
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Dan--I am certain that all affected will appreciate your thoughts and prayers. So many were affected and will be dealing with this for months and years to come.

May 29, 2008 01:06 AM #16
Rainmaker
720,487
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Carole--You know we were put on notice as there was a tornado watch all day and the sirens did go off several minutes prior to the storm but people have become complacent because it is rare for a tornado to hit in MN with this force and devastation. It was amazing that more weren't hurt or killed...but 1 life lost is too many.

May 29, 2008 01:09 AM #17
Rainmaker
720,487
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Sandra--Oklahoma gets many more tornados per year than Minnesota. As you know, their unpredictablity is what is so scary. Having a tornado safety plan is important...even if it isn't needed very often.

May 29, 2008 01:13 AM #18
Rainmaker
720,487
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Rosario--I think you make an excellent point...We have to continually respect the power of these storms and recognize that they are unpredictable. No more complacency when it comes to the warning sirens.

May 29, 2008 01:15 AM #19
Rainmaker
720,487
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Pam--I missed that story...I heard the one where the family found their child's favorite blanket. Small comforts in tragedy.

May 29, 2008 01:17 AM #20
Rainmaker
720,487
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Gary--The strength of the Hugo community is the story now. Forest Lake, the neighboring community to the north is sending a bus load of students to volunteer on Saturday and many schools, churches and businesses are assisting families. A true community rebuilding effort!

May 29, 2008 01:20 AM #21
Rainmaker
720,487
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Lizette--Oh what a great inspirational comment! I can't imagine what it would be like to start over...You not only can imagine it but you lived it! Many of the families are staying in hotels until they find temporary housing. From the reports most won't be in the hotels for more than a couple of weeks but about 50 families will start over with nothing but the donations from friends and strangers.

May 29, 2008 01:27 AM #22
Rainmaker
720,487
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Kris--It is frightening to consider and very sad. Your concern and prayers are no doubt appreciated.

May 29, 2008 01:28 AM #23
Rainmaker
602,052
Lindsey Hasford
Edina Realty - Elk River, MN
Bringing you home...

Teri - I am glad that you and your family are safe! This storm has definetely put a damper on quite a few families.... It's incredible what kind of damage these storms can do isn't it?!?!

May 29, 2008 05:55 AM #24
Rainmaker
92,270
Lynn Johnson
Coldwell Banker Home Connection - Owatonna, MN
Owatonna, MN Real Estate

Teri - Thanks for sharing the story and the photos.  I'm so glad you and your family weren't in harm's way.  It's devastating and my heart goes out to the Prindle family for their tragic loss, as well as to all of the families who suffered damage to their homes and property.  My sisters-in-law both live in Ramsey and they had a lot of hail and wind damage at their homes.  Luckily they weren't injured.  I grew up in Fridley and lived through the extremely frightening Fridley tornado in 1965. I still get pretty nervous during high winds and bad storms.

May 29, 2008 12:21 PM #25
Rainer
76,589
Sabrina Kelley
ERA Herman Group Real Estate - Woodland Park, CO
Woodland Park Colorado Mountain Homes and Land

Weld county in Northern Colorado was also devastaed. How many more days of tornado season?

May 31, 2008 07:37 AM #26
Rainmaker
135,495
Jennifer Kirby
Kirby Fine Homes - Minneapolis, MN
The Luxury Agent

Teri - the sirens went off here today south of the river. We could see some really ugly clouds a half mile away. It was a great time to sit on the porch and explain to our three year old the good and bad about storms. Today was the first time he saw lightning, so we had a lot of explaining to do. Glad you are safe!

May 31, 2008 01:55 PM #27
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