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Tornado hotline, online help available

University of Minnesota Extension announces its coordinated system of online and phone answer resources available for those with tornado-related questions while cleanup efforts are under way.

University of Minnesota Extension announces its coordinated system of online and phone answer resources available for those with tornado-related questions while cleanup efforts are under way.

A tornado devastated the northern St. Paul suburb of Hugo on May 25. Another tornado touched down in Coon Rapids, and storms downed trees and power lines across the northern suburbs. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has declared a state of emergency for Washington County.

The toll free phone services and Extension's tornado and wind Web site, www.extension.umn.edu/ , click on "tornado and wind," connects Minnesotans to the most up-to-date information on tornado response, safety and cleanup issues. Two of the phone services, the Farm Information Line and the AnswerLine, can also refer callers to appropriate agencies if additional information is needed.

The Farm Information Line (800-232-9077), staffed by Extension personnel Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., is a resource for questions about water, crops, horticulture and climatology issues. Questions at other times of the day and on weekends can be left on voice mail and will be returned during staffed hours. In addition, questions can be e-mailed to the Farm Information Line at fil@umn.edu , and a written response will be returned.

Extension's AnswerLine (800-854-1678), which can provide answers to household and family-oriented questions, is staffed Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.

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If callers are unsure about which answer service to contact, they should first call the Farm Information Line (800-232-9077), and Extension personnel will help direct them.

A one-stop online resource, the Extension tornado and wind Web site was reactivated May 27.

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