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Officials boost number of buildings damaged in Wadena; volunteers streaming in to help clean up

WADENA, Minn. - As cleanup from the tornado that ripped through here entered its fifth day, local officials warned those working here to do so at a moderate pace.

WADENA, Minn. - As cleanup from the tornado that ripped through here entered its fifth day, local officials warned those working here to do so at a moderate pace. The cleanup effort is not a race, they said, and they want to limit injuries suffered from working too fast and without regard to safety.

Officials also have increased the number of structures destroyed or damaged by Thursday's tornado by nearly another 40 structures, and officials helping with relief were overwhelmed by 10 times the number of volunteers they expected to help clean up on Monday.

Other tornado updates from officials here include:

- An updated damage assessment: Wadena reported 26 destroyed buildings, 60 with major damage, 91 with minor damage and 91 "affected," for a total of 268. The previous total was 230.

- Volunteer coordinators were expecting roughly 25 to 30 volunteers Monday. There were 364.


A big push will be made for volunteers for Saturday on what it being called Work on Wadena or WOW.

Volunteers can call 211 from any land line or (800) 543-7709 from any phone for more information.

- People in the area who need volunteer help should call (218) 640-3432. Organizers are encouraging those in need of help to call because they want enough projects to keep the volunteers busy.

- Clothing donations are being taken and distributed from the Rising Phoenix.

- No fires have resulted from the large number of gas leaks that happened around town.

- Officials are keeping in place an 11 p.m. curfew in northwest and southwest Wadena. People may be stopped and asked to show ID if traveling late at night or early in the morning.

- Gov. Tim Pawlenty said a Federal Emergency Management Agency assessment starts today. He's keeping in close contact with what is happening in Wadena and plans to make an appeal to the federal government for a disaster declaration.

- The Friendly Rider Bus Garage remains the drop-off and pickup point for relief items, and it is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily at 124 S.E. First Street.


Needed items include tarps, rolls of plastic, garbage bags and gloves.

Emergency supplies are available at the garage.

- Tri-County Hospital reported 18 recovery-related accidents to add to 34 storm-related accidents. Hospital officials are stressing to those cleaning up to keep hydrated, wear sunscreen, wear insect repellent and work at a moderate pace.

- Through Sunday, 817 loads of tree debris was hauled away by crews. On Monday, another 460 loads were moved.

- The Red Cross served 2,300 meals Monday. Red Cross officials will be in Wadena through Sunday doing the same.

- City leaders urge residents not to remove any tree stumps or to begin grinding any stumps yet. They say there is too great a risk of the roots pulling up power or gas lines.

- The local Walmart is accepting spoiled food, which will be composted. Spoiled meat is not yet being accepted, but officials are working on that. For more information call (218) 631-1068.

- Two agencies are offering hot lines for those who feel stressed. For more information, call the Red Cross at (202) 731-4063 or the Salvation Army at (701) 610-1983.


- Fire Chief Dean Uselman told residents that if they have concerns about whether their home is safe to enter, they can have a firefighter check it out.

He warned residents against going into damaged structures to retrieve personal items.

"Certainly there are things that are irreplaceable, but you're one of those," he said. "You're not replaceable."

- Residents are no longer being asked to conserve water or to limit their sewer use.

- An effort is being made to get relief supplies and anything needed to those to the west in Otter Tail County who have been affected. "You are not forgotten," said state Sen. Dan Skogen of the Deer Creek and Bluffton areas.

- A donation fund has been established at Mid Central Federal Savings Bank in Wadena. Donations can be dropped off there, or mailed to the City of Wadena Emergency Disaster Fund, P.O. Box 152, Wadena, MN 56482.

- Lost and found animals are being reunited with owners. For more information, contact the Humane Society at (218) 632-5938 or Southbrook Animal Hospital at (218) 631-3503.

- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency warns not to burn anything on your property.


The Wadena (Minn.) Pioneer Journal is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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