Northwood residents' spirits remain intact
NORTHWOOD, N.D. - Roger Kringlie tried to keep a sense of humor as he stood among the ruins of his livelihood. "It's kind of messy," the 80-year-old joked as he gave a tour of the devastated law office that served him the past 45 years. But as hi...
NORTHWOOD, N.D. - Roger Kringlie tried to keep a sense of humor as he stood among the ruins of his livelihood.
"It's kind of messy," the 80-year-old joked as he gave a tour of the devastated law office that served him the past 45 years.
But as his thoughts returned to the tornado that ransacked his business and this city, Kringlie grew emotional over the reality of it all.
"I heard it was bad," Kringlie, of Grand Forks, said with tears in his eyes as the toll of the past few days weighed heavily on him. "It's all over, wide destruction."
As residents and business owners come to grips with the aftermath of the EF-4 tornado that hit the city of 950 on Sunday, personal stories of loss and triumph overflow.
For some like Kringlie, the thought of where to start recovering is overwhelming.
His office windows are open, the glass shattered in the storm. Yellow insulation hangs from the ceiling, and furniture is smashed. Glass fragments and debris litter the floor.
"I don't know too much what we're going to do," Kringlie said Tuesday afternoon while gazing at the mess.
But while his grief was evident, there was also hope.
"You find out you have a lot of help in a small town," he said.
That feeling was evident throughout the city Tuesday.
At Meland Lumber, several workers were busy repairing the roof. Alerus Financial set up grills and tables to serve meals and give people a place to connect. Volunteers hauled away hundreds of truckloads of debris.
Supervalu owners Joan and Lonnie Guenthner took pictures of damage to prepare for their insurance claim.
The new grocery store has to get rid of $150,000 worth of inventory in case of contamination from rain, Joan Guenthner said. The ceiling still dripped Tuesday afternoon in the dark store.
The couple is waiting to find out how much structural damage occurred, and if it will cost more to renovate or to simply rebuild.
"There's just so much we don't know yet," Lonnie Guenthner said.
Overall, rebuilding the city is going to take time and will likely be a three- to five-year process, said Mayor Richard Johnson.
Recovery timelines will depend on available contractors, and residents' decisions on whether to stay and rebuild, Federal Emergency Management Agency official Laurie Hassell said.
As residents go through this disaster, they need to be patient and know there will be delays and frustration, said Kevin Dean, public information officer for Grand Forks.
"They should allow themselves to realize they're going to get tired physically, mentally and emotionally. It's not fun," he said. "When you go through a disaster, it's very much like dealing with a death."
Despite the array of emotions, Dean senses "a real spirit here in Northwood" and is amazed at the progress in the first 48 hours.
"They don't accept defeat easily," he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Teri Finneman at (701) 241-5560