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Rusk County News

WLDY-WJBL NEWS 5-17-17

(Undated)  —  The National Weather Service says a single tornado could have gone for more than 60 miles in northwest Wisconsin, killing mobile home park resident Eric Gavin near Chetek. After surveying damage on the ground Wednesday, the National Weather Service says it might have to conduct aerial surveys to see if more than one tornado landed in parts of Barron and Rusk counties and possibly Price County. The confirmed tornado from late Tuesday was classified as an “E-F Two Plus” with peak winds of 120 miles per hour. Barron County officials now say 38 mobile homes at the Prairie Lake Estates park near Chetek were destroyed, eight others had major damage, and three had minor damage — and two law enforcement officers had minor injuries while looking for victims, bringing the total number of injured to 27. Wisconsin Emergency Management says about 50 people used a temporary shelter  — and after seeing the damage Wednesday, Governor Scott Walker declared a state of emergency for Barron, Rusk, and Jackson counties, paving the way for state agencies to provide assistance.

MADISON – Governor Scott Walker Wednesday declared a State of Emergency for Barron, Jackson and Rusk counties following tornadoes and damaging storms.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the devastating tornadoes that hit Tuesday night,” Governor Walker said. “I have instructed state agencies and the Wisconsin National Guard to help those affected by the storms as they recover and rebuild. I thank the Wisconsin National Guard, Wisconsin Emergency Management, and all state agencies for their coordinated response to this emergency.”

Governor Walker surveyed the damage Wednesday afternoon near Chetek where a tornado hit a mobile home park Tuesday night. One person was killed and 25 people were injured.

Heavy rains also impacted parts of west central and northwestern Wisconsin where some areas have received more than 5 inches of rain causing damage to roads and other infrastructure.

Governor Walker directed state agencies to help those affected by the storms and called the Wisconsin National Guard to state active duty, as Adjutant General Donald Dunbar deems necessary, to assist local authorities in the recovery efforts. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Department of Administration, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Wisconsin State Patrol, and Wisconsin Emergency Management have been assisting with response and recovery efforts.

(WQOW) – Preliminary results from the National Weather Service show Tuesday’s tornado was an EF-2, with wind speeds between 120 mph to 130 mph.

The NWS said no exact path length was identified but they have a continuous damage path from west of Chetek to east of Conrath (about 30-40 miles).

News 18 spoke with Bill Borghoff, the lead forecaster with the National Weather Service. He said last major tornado in the area was back in September 2002, which was an EF-3 tornado that hit Ladysmith about 15 years ago.

BARRON CO., Wis. (WEAU) — Tuesday night’s storm ripped through parts of Barron County, destroying 38 of 54 homes in the Prairie Lake Estates mobile home park.

One person was killed by the storm and one is confirmed to be in serious condition.

Wednesday, families were allowed to come and get, or try and find, necessities and belongings from the sight of where their homes once were.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald walked around the site with Governor Walker, touring the damage and speaking with families.

Currently, one person has been confirmed to be in critical condition and sixteen others had been transported to local hospitals.

Community members have been showing tremendous support helping their neighbors get back on their feet.

“The response, again, has been tremendous at one point last night over 200 first responders, law enforcement personnel, and fire department members were on scene,” said Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald during a press briefing. “I just want to give out a special thanks to Mosaic Telecom for their assistance with emergency shelter. They are here if anybody has questions for them.”

Wednesday was surrounded by recovery efforts, as many rummaged through the damage to find home goods, pictures, clothing and even animals. We spoke with several people who say they’re still missing cats and dogs and other pets. In fact, there was a rescue of a pet rabbit at Prairie Lake Estates mobile home Wednesday afternoon.

Western Wisconsin (WQOW) – Communities across northwestern Wisconsin are coming together to help families and individuals recover after Tuesday’s tornado.

Here is a list of agencies who you can contact to help:

  • ON FRIDAY, MAY 19St. Peters Catholic Church in Cameron — volunteers can help clean-up the area; you should dress appropriately for the clean-up event.
  • Rusk County Sheriff’s Office — fund accounts have been established at Pioneer Bank of Wisconsin in Ladysmith and Ladysmith Federal Savings to assist families and people affected by Tuesday’s tornado; monetary donations can be dropped off there.
  • Taco Juanitas in Eau Claire — 50 percent of customer proceeds from Wednesday and Thursday will be donated to people affected by the tornado. Also, the business is giving away free meals to families and people affected.
  • American Red Cross — help with disaster relief by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to donate $10.
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