One year after the May 22, 2011, tornado that ravaged North Minneapolis, things are looking up for Anthony and Shemeika Strong. Anthony has been entrusted as the superintendent of their apartment building at 2509 Golden Valley Rd., which is nearly full of renters, and whose outside brick walls and roof look much better than those of neighboring buildings.
The absence of the Broadway Liquor Outlet six blocks away on the corner of Broadway and Penn — the most prominent local business before the storm — has also been a blessing, says Anthony, who cynically jokes that “a liquor store to a black man is always good in your neighborhood.” (Ironically, the sole piece of tornado relief legislation to come out of the Minnesota State Capitol during the 2012 session was a move to help that liquor store re-open on the other side of Broadway Ave.)
That store was decimated by the tornado and looted just 10 minutes later, allegedly prompting Minneapolis police to forcibly vacate the apartment buildings on Golden Valley Rd., and send Anthony, Shemeika and their neighbors to the North Commons community center, where the Red Cross converted the gymnasium into a temporary shelter with hundreds of cots lining the floor. After a couple of weeks they moved into a hotel room in Brooklyn Center, where their bill was covered and where they were given bus cards.
By last summer, the Strongs had decided that their apartment building was livable, and they moved back in, despite an orange condemned sticker that the City had slapped on the front door. Anthony became the building’s de facto superintendent, and they’ve been there ever since.
(Video by Matt Johnson)