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NWS: Forada Tornado Was EF-2, With Path Half-Mile Wide

Originally published May 31

FORADA, Minn. (WCCO) -- Families across Minnesota are cleaning up from Memorial Day storms they won't soon forget.

At least four tornadoes ripped through parts of Minnesota on Memorial Day, according to the National Weather Service. The most devastating of the four -- and EF-2 -- struck the town of Forada, located a few miles south of Alexandria.

NWS officials say the tornado had winds topping out at 120 mph, and it roared along a path that was a half-mile wide. Its survey team also found evidence of "multiple vortexes."

The resort community on Maple Lake has a population of 135 residents. Douglas County emergency management officials say about 75-100 structures are damaged in this community.

Mayor David Reller compared the damage to a combat zone, and that's what it feels like. Everything is completely and utterly destroyed. But remarkably, and thankfully, no one was seriously hurt or killed in the wake of this destruction.

"We have some homes that were just built that are destroyed. Our hearts go out to them. People with three or four kids in the family and they don't have a house anymore," Reller said. "It's very difficult to go through the neighborhood because it's not going to look the same."

Trees are also flattened out, some of them large, old trees that the winds were powerful enough to take out.

Reller says the Red Cross is on the ground, and local members of the community are helping people get food and water. He says seven local fire departments responded.

"The landscape is going to change drastically. Houses need to be rebuilt. It's overwhelming, but we have great response," he said. "We're just so fortunate to have so many people show up to assist in clearing a lot of the debris, but we still have a long way to go."

One family member WCCO spoke to was visibly shaken when she saw the devastation, and said when she arrived it was like attending a funeral for those memories. But she is so grateful her family is safe.

Douglas County officials say close to four-dozen clean-up crews are on the ground picking up debris and doing tree removal. It's only the beginning, as this community picks up the pieces and tries to rebuild.

The three other confirmed tornadoes: The town of Eagle Bend, in central Minnesota, was hit by an EF-1 tornado, with wind speeds topping out at 95 mph; an EF-1 wreaked havoc in Plato, southwest of the metro, with max wind speeds of 90 mph; and an EF-0/EF-1 tornado caused damaged between Appleton and Glenwood in southwestern Minnesota.

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