Minnesota Tornadoes Destroy 635 Homes; 2 People Killed, 38 Hurt
Residents shoveled broken glass and hacked through fallen trees Monday after rare March tornadoes destroyed an estimated 635 homes in southern Minnesota.
An 85-year-old man and a 6-year-old boy were killed and 38 people were injured, three critically, in Sunday’s violent weather.
Over two hours, the tornadoes cut a swath of destruction through nine communities, pulverizing much of St. Peter and Comfrey.
It was only the seventh time Minnesota has recorded tornadoes in March. Craig Edwards of the National Weather Service said unseasonably warm weather produced by El Nino seemed the most logical explanation for the twisters.
Gov. Arne Carlson cut short a trip to Washington so he could tour the damaged areas, and sent National Guard troops to help.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency made available some of the trailer houses used last year to shelter victims of disastrous flooding along the Minnesota-North Dakota state line.
St. Peter, a town of 10,000 residents, was hardest hit. Officials said more than 500 homes were destroyed and 1,700 were damaged.
Gustavus Adolphus College, where most students were away on spring break, was a disaster. Many campus buildings were damaged, including the chapel, which lost its 137-foot spire. A campus parking lot looked like a junkyard, with about 50 cars tossed around.
In Comfrey, a town of about 550 people 45 miles west of St. Peter, the fire station, the city liquor store, a cafe and a church were demolished. Fifty homes were destroyed.