“There’s so much good on the north side”

Natasha Mitchell misses North Minneapolis. The 38-year-old mother of two had to leave the neighborhood after the house they were renting was struck by last year’s tornado, leaving serious water and mold damage in every corner. Their landlord refused to repair the roof, and the mold exacerbated her already poor health. Mitchell suffers from lupus, spinalstenosis, and arthritis, which have made her unable to work for over a year: Her last job was at the makeup counter at Macy’s in Brookdale.

Mitchell’s problems with the landlord ultimately helped her acquire a tornado displacement voucher, though she wasn’t able to find any more Section 8 housing in North Minneapolis, so she settled for a home in Robbinsdale. But she misses her neighborhood.

“There’s so much good on the north, so many good people, and we found out about those people because of the tornado,” said Mitchell. “When you have your kids in school on the north side, when you have friends and family that are there. When you have doctors, in my case with health conditions …”

Meanwhile, Mitchell can tell that her kids, 11-year-old Philip and 9-year-old Kemya, were traumatized by the May 22 storm and have struggled in school as a result. Philip has developed ADHD, and Kemya has been bullied.

“The year anniversary coming up, it brings back memories, both good and bad. As far as good, all the people that came out to help. As far as bad, what we lost, what we had to go through and go without. … Here we are almost a year later and I’m still not over it.”

Jacob Wheeler

In addition to shooting videos for The UpTake, Jacob Wheeler is a contributing editor at the progressive political magazine In These Times, publishes the Glen Arbor Sun in his native Michigan, and authored "Between Light and Shadow," a recent book about the Guatemalan adoption industry. Wheeler's stories have appeared in such magazines as the Utne Reader, Earth Island Journal, Rotarian and Teaching Tolerance magazine, and newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle and Christian Science Monitor. He speaks fluent Spanish, German and Danish.

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