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Wadena curfew lifted, but police presence stays

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The 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew in tornado-stricken areas of Wadena is over.

Does that mean everything is back to normal?

"Well, it's far from normal," Wadena Police Chief Bruce Uselman said.

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Uselman said despite the curfew going away, there will still be a lot of extra officers on the streets, making sure people and property are safe.

"There are still homes that don't have doors," he said. "It's important for the public to know there will still be a strong police presence through that area."

Uselman said his officers have been putting in a lot of overtime, teaming up with out-of-town law enforcement personnel in a sort of cop buddy system to pair someone who knows the area with someone who is new to town.

"What we're trying to deal with now is we're trying to get a half day off and rotate everyone through," Uselman said.

He indicated the number of officers on the street will decrease through the holiday weekend, but still remain high above normal staffing levels before the EF4 tornado devastated the town.

Uselman explained that the other law enforcement agencies that have come to Wadena will all be sending bills to the city, and those bills will get paid in anticipation of getting some federal reimbursement if a presidential disaster is declared.

"Every indication at this point is that we will receive a presidential declaration, which will open up the FEMA funds for assistance," Uselman said.

And the chief believes there will be plenty more overtime in store for quite a while before things actually do get back to normal in Wadena.

"It's going to be at least a year before we get back to somewhat normal," Uselman said. "Because you're dealing with the whole school issue, and you'll have unique problems crop up on a daily basis."

If there's been a positive, it's that the weather has allowed a lot of people to get deep into the cleanup and recovery process, he said.

"The biggest break has been the weather," Uselman said. "It's been dry and people have been able to seal things up on their homes."

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