12 months from a tornado

Published 2:20 pm Saturday, June 12, 2010

In the past 12 months, most Austin residents and business owners affected by the June 2009 tornado have rebuilt their homes, shops and offices. But memories of the twister’s destruction can be triggered by reflecting on how far they have come — and, for some, how much further there is to go.

Morem Tree Service

Where now a pristine business sits, there was once a muddy yard, nine damaged sheds, a destroyed barn and a disheveled office.

Today, little evidence remains of the 30 years of work that the EF2-twister destroyed in a matter of minutes.

When Dan Morem was asked last year what parts of his business, Morem Tree Service, were damaged in the tornado, he answered: “Everything.”

The Fourth Street Northwest business had more than 90 loads of junk hauled away and wrapped up most repairs in October.

Royal Manor

Glenn and Judy Medgaarden’s Royal Manor home in northeast Austin lost its three seasons room in the storm. The tornado also tore out windows and pulled items from their kitchen table.

“My first words when I came out of the house were ‘Oh my god, where do we start,’” Glenn said.

The couple worked until Thanksgiving repairing their house and replanting trees. They lost 42 evergreens and a few trees from their apple orchard in the storm; they also suffered damage to their one-acre garden.

With the help of family and friends, their house looks like a home again.

Todd Park

Where baby ducks swam last June through the flooded park, newly planted trees grow this year.

With the number of trees ripped up from Todd Park, it too lost its canopy.

Parks and Recreation Director Kim Underwood estimated that roughly half of the park’s trees were destroyed in the tornado. In the year since, parks and recreation, area organizations and volunteers have pitched in to rebuild the park one tree at a time.

Trees weren’t the only thing that needed attention — new fencing was installed, and dugouts and lighting were damaged in the park.

Tree planting will continue for at least five years; parks and recreation received a five-year Hormel Foundation grant to help continue the effort.

Jay C. Hormel Nature Center

The tornado destroyed an estimated 300 trees at the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center, according to director Larry Dolphin.

After 12 months filled with numerous clean-up and replanting efforts, piles of branches, corpses of downed trees and a wide-open view of the sky — where a lush canopy once thrived — remain today as a stark reminder of the storm that ripped through the space a year ago.

The storm also crashed into the visitor center, leaving a hole in the roof and punching out a side window.

A new roof was completed in late August, and the carpet was replaced in October due to ensuing water damage.

Tree clean-up and replanting effort continues.