Deer River is still recovering from the Memorial Day tornado


More than a month has passed since a tornado hit Deer River, and community members continue to recover from damage sustained over Memorial Day weekend. But as Deer River residents learned after the storm, strong winds can topple buildings and trees, but not community spirit.

“Every time a storm is announced, you wonder what’s going to happen this time,” said Deer River resident Eileen Johnston, whose garage was destroyed during the tornado.

As unpredictable as Minnesota weather can be, no one is expecting the worst-case scenario. But for the town of Deer River, their Memorial Day weekend was momentous as businesses and buildings were hit by an EF-1 tornado, uprooting trees and downing power lines with winds of 107 miles per hour .

“At present, [the adjuster, engineer and myself] are waiting for the information to reach my insurance company,” said Gordon Lee Herrgard, owner of the post office building in Deer River. “There is a lot of work to do here.”

As the tornadoes crossed Deer River, commercial and residential buildings were affected. While some people were able to find help in the days following the storm, others are still waiting.

“Now we are just waiting [the contractors] to rebuild our garage,” resident Marvin Johnston said. “We don’t even know when they’ll be able to do that because the contractors here are so busy dealing with all the damage that it’s taking time now.”

Although the effects of the tornado may be felt a month later with services like the post office still closed, community support is what keeps people going.

“In a world where you think no one cares anymore, they really do,” Carl Williams, owner of Carroll Funeral Home. “That’s… the advantage of living in a small community.”

The exact financial amount of property damage has not been determined, according to the Itasca County Assessor’s Office. However, they expect the destruction of the funeral home, post office and furniture store to be among the highest estimates.

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