On Monday, it will have been 12 years since the brutal EF2 tornado ravaged MetraPark and surrounding businesses. I remember that day, hunkered down in my grandmother's basement in the Heights wondering if I would be swept up in the strong vortex. Luckily, I wasn't, and nobody else had been either. We were lucky that day. Small businesses in the area weren't so lucky.

The Calm Before the Storm

On the morning of June 20, 2010, a partly sunny day reached 75 degrees right before noon, but little did anyone know that there would be a brutal change in weather. We knew about thunderstorms and hail warnings from the previous day, but then we heard a tornado warning. Not a watch. A warning.

Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

According to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the tornado formed at around 4:24 p.m. around the intersection of Lake Elmo Drive and Main Street in the Heights. It then spread a mass of destruction across many businesses and ended at the Rimrock Auto Arena (now known as the First Interstate Arena).

Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Aftermath Saw Billings Come Together

Obviously, the largest loss came at MetraPark, when nearly the entire roof came off. 400 volunteers from all over the city came and helped clear debris just two days after the tornado, and folks in the community also helped to rebuild buildings and businesses such as Fas-Break Windshield Repair.

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Now, 12 years on, the Heights has fully recovered, in my opinion. However, we will not forget the day it happened and the brutal damage that was experienced.

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