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Looters hit Minneapolis tornado survivors

Adding insult to injury among north Minneapolis tornado survivors, looters are starting to descend on the neighborhood like parasites, kicking in doors and loading up trucks with stolen goods with enough frequency that police announced this morning they were boosting their presence in the Fourth Precinct.

You can hardly blame the homeowners who tell reporters they refuse to leave their property, even when their homes are declared unlivable. They figure if they follow the law, some dirtbag will come along and steal whatever Mother Nature couldn't the first time around.

The city now estimates that 1,819 homes were seriously damaged by the tornado, 116 to the point of being uninhabitable. About 60 people are still living at the Northeast Armory shelter, and more are housed at the Drake Hotel downtown.

Power is still out for almost 6,000 Xcel Energy customers, and repair crews are reported to be resorting to maps on some streets to differentiate between utility lines and other structures and trees heaved about by the storm. About 200 power line poles were destroyed.

MPD spokesman Sgt. Stephen McCarty tells us this morning that besides cutting down on looting, the police are going to play a more active role in providing information and directions to people requiring help, and they're going to offer more escorts to city staff, other emergency responders, and work crews clearing the area.

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