Rebuild continues one year after Hartland tornado

KEYC News Now at 6 Recording
Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 5:45 PM CST
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HARTLAND, Minn. (KEYC) -Thursday marks one year since Minnesota’s first recorded December tornado tore through Hartland.

While the town has largely returned to business as usual, there are still visible scars of the storm’s damage.

Vacant lots lie where businesses once stood, converted into makeshift parking lots, a symbol of a town making the best of a functional rebuild.

Many damaged buildings had to be demolished throughout the year, such as L&D Ag Service’s welding facility, or Arcadian Bank’s century-old building, and residents are eager for everything that was lost to return as soon as possible.

“People are anxious to make things happen here in town and I think something will, it just takes time,” said Travis Routh, co-owner of L&D Ag Services.

That process of rebuilding is slow and steady. L&D is well underway with the construction of a new, bigger welding facility, and Arcadian Bank’ damaged building was finally demolished just a few weeks ago.

Arcadian Bank said that the demolition of a building constructed in 1912 was a difficult decision. They added that it was necessary to get back up and running in a community that they hold so close to their hearts, and that rebuilding was always the number one priority.

“We could have taken a very cynical view and said ‘oh now is our opportunity to skip town. And get an insurance check and run off. But that just doesn’t fit our culture. We never even considered not rebuilding. That was never even on the table,” said Arcadian’s Mark Heinemann.

The bank expects to break ground on the new building as soon as the snow melts in the spring, hoping to be open by next fall.

With construction projects still in the works, there’s still a long way to go before Hartland is back up to full strength, but residents said that there’s hope to find a silver lining, to make the town stronger than ever.

“We want to try to improve these small towns, you know it’s kind of tough to keep up to maybe some bigger towns, but we’re looking forward to trying to find ways to get some new facilities or new buildings, new businesses in town,” Routh said.