Monday, May 26, 2008

Tornado & Storm Damage, Memorial Day

On Monday, Memorial Day, I made a quick tour of the district to check on storm damage after yesterday's heavy weather.

Please keep the families who just lost their homes, suffered loss of human life, or who were injured just to the northeast of district 53A in Hugo in your thoughts and prayers. The Twin Cities chapter of the American Red Cross has set up a center in Hugo today and the Governor will be visiting. You can contribute to the Red Cross effort on-line.

The Star Tribune reports this: "Donations toward the tornado relief effort can be sent to: The Hugo Relief Fund, Lake Area Bank, 1400 E. Hwy. 96, White Bear Lake, MN 55110. Volunteers at the Hugo Fire Department are accepting donations of water, food, personal care, bedding and other items for the storm victims. There is no call out yet for volunteer labor. The Hugo Fire Dept. is at 5323 140th St. N., in Hugo."

Lino Lakes in my legislative district suffered a lot of hail damage. Just about every home I saw just off of Birch Street and east of 35E showed major holes in the siding from golf-ball sized hail. There were quite a few broken windows as well, but no one seems to have lost a roof. Just a half-mile south in Shoreview, there was no damage whatsoever.

Storms like this attract unscrupulous contractors offering to fix your house. If you are going to be requiring work on your home, the Attorney General's office has a handy primer for how to protect yourself as a consumer.

The City of Lino Lakes has a great web page about dealing with solicitors offering to fix storm damage.

Today is also Memorial Day, a time when we remember those who have fallen in our nation's service. PBS has a nice web site where you can read and submit eulogies for those veterans.

While most Americans recognize the service of those who served roughly from World War II to the present, I've been on a personal mission to recognize two earlier veterans in my family.

My great-great-great grandfather Sgt. John Gardner served in the 131st Pennsylvania Infantry during the Civil War. In December 1862, he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia. His wife gave birth to their tenth child a few months later. He is buried in a small church cemetery outside Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania but when I visited there about 15 years ago I found that all the grave markers from that period had either been neglected or vandalized many years before. The army will actually give you a new white marble headstone if you pay for installation, but my sister and I have struggled for years to get the cemetery association to respond to us so that we can put up a new grave marker for this veteran.

John Gardner's father James Gardner served in the War of 1812 in the Pennsylvania militia. When the British burned Washington, the Governor of Pennsylvania called up the militia to defend Baltimore, and James's unit took part. I have located James's wife's headstone in Millersburg, Pennsylvania, and I think James's grave is next to hers. But again, the grave marker is gone so I don't have any proof that he is there yet.

So be grateful that Americans are tending graves and putting out flags in cemeteries nationwide today. Make sure that those veterans are not forgotten!