'It's like a war zone': Public urged to stay out of heavily hit areas of Wadena
WADENA, Minn. - As cleanup continues in the aftermath of Thursday's tornado, officials urge the public to stay out of the most heavily hit areas of town.
Access to the southwest area of this city of about 4,300 is limited today to emergency personnel because of the concerns about downed power lines, gas leaks and scattered debris, officials said this morning.
"It's devastating," Mayor Wayne Wolden said. "It's like a war zone."
Some residents are being allowed in the restricted area with a law enforcement escort.
Travelers along Highway 10 near Wadena are urged to find alternate routes to avoid traffic congestion through the city.
Wolden said residents should conserve water to ensure it's available in the coming days.
The city and county expect to declare a state of emergency today, Wolden said. About 40 National Guard soldiers were activated to help in cleanup efforts.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty will view damage from the air and meet with local officials this afternoon.
A public meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. today at St. Anne's Catholic Church in Wadena.
Organizers for an all-school reunion planned for this weekend are still trying to determine if any events will be held.
Thirty-four people were treated for storm-related injuries. One person remains hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries, said Joel Beiswenger, CEO of Tri-County Health Care.
Officials said volunteers will start cleanup of trees and debris in some of the rural areas today, while law enforcement continue to clear roads within the city.