'I Was Standing There Amazed I Was Still Alive'

St. Louis Park residents are cleaning up after Sunday's tornado.

“I was standing there amazed I was still alive.”

That’s what Victor Valdez said Monday morning, a day after a tornado sent a tree crashing into his townhome and caused damage throughout his neighborhood in northeast St. Louis Park.

Valdez lives in the Cedar Trails Condominiums, which sustained some of the worst damage Sunday around 2 p.m. when a tornado apparently touched down before moving north into Minneapolis and Fridley. Valdez and his wife were home at the time, watching a movie.

“I noticed water was pouring in through an open window,” Valdez said. He said he and his wife then rushed to shut windows throughout the residence. When Valdez entered one of the unit's bedroom, he caught an ominous sight.

“I saw it coming,” Valdez said of the tornado. “I closed the window and just jumped back.”

Valdez was able to scamper into a closet as a tree crashed down on the room. He and his wife were not injured. The two of them are now staying in a nearby hotel and expect to be out of their home for at least a month, but they were able to return briefly to collect belongings, including two very important items—the couple’s wedding rings.

On nearby Douglas Avenue in Golden Valley, a number of homes are dealing with downed trees, and the street was clogged Monday morning with various landscaping crews who were busy clearing debris.

Bill Harris, who lives in the 4400 block of Douglas Avenue, said he too was home when the storm came through.

“I didn’t hear a siren,” he said. “It happened in seconds.”

Harris and his son were watching TV in the living room when they saw swirling winds outside, and Harris said he heard a sucking noise as trees began to get uprooted.  

“It was just like toothpicks dropping,” he said.

The two started to head to the basement, but a tree landed on top of the house first. Another tree landed on Harris’ truck, smashing the front windshield. Harris and his son were not injured.

Much of the area is without power, and Xcel Energy reports that more than 10,000 Twin Cities residents are still in the dark. The , which is near the Cedar Trails Condominiums, is closed Monday as a result of the outages. Streets in the area that were blocked off last night have been reopened to traffic.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison toured the damage in St. Louis Park and elsewhere in the metro, including North Minneapolis, on Monday. In a statement, the congressman said, "My thoughts and prayers are with the people and communities in Minneapolis, Fridley and St. Louis Park affected by tornadoes that struck on Sunday. I grieve for the loss of life and the broad scale destruction left in the wake of this disaster."

Gov. Mark Dayton and Minnesota legislators are to provide funds for disaster relief.

Stay with St. Louis Park Patch for updates to this story.

Have photos of storm damage in St. Louis Park? You can attach them directly to this article by clicking on "Add your photos and videos" above. Or, you can email them to michael.rose@patch.com.


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