Residents take stock after night of tornadoes in central US

Cameron Gross
May 19, 2017

Ronald Bloomberg, another resident of the park, returned to discover his home was completely gone, with his neighbor, 45-year-old Eric Gavin, dead in a tree. One man was killed and two dozen others were hurt when the tornado touched down Tuesday evening. The Chetek tornado was an EF-2, with wind speeds between 120 and 130 miles per hour.

Elk City Police Chief Eddie Holland said another person was rescued from the Fairway housing addition near the Elk City municipal golf course by firefighters who dug the person out from under rubble, Holland said.

The Whitewater Unified School District canceled classes at its five schools because of a lack of electricity.

Sheriff Fitzgerald said sirens were sounded in Chetek 25 minutes before the storm hit the mobile home park, but he does not know if park residents could hear them from that distance.

It devastated 50 to 60 trailer homes and injured 25 people, 17 of whom were taken to hospitals. Campers landed in nearby lakes, he said.

"I've been inundated with calls from people asking what they can do to help", he said Wednesday morning.

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The Sheriff's Office asked members of the community to stop bringing donations for now until needs can be assessed.

In addition to the touchdown near Chetek, Kyle Kriegl of the Red Cross said, there was a second touchdown in Rusk County, Wis., near Conrath, a hamlet of fewer than 100 people.

Other tornadoes in western Oklahoma and the eastern Texas Panhandle have downed power lines and utility poles, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

The county plans to open a volunteer reception center on Friday to coordinate trailer park clean up efforts. "The tornado traveled easterly through the county, touching down in several places".

The National Weather Service in Norman has not yet released information about the strength of the tornado, but tweeted early Wednesday that it will be surveying the damage. National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Hultquist said the storms covered so much ground and were so powerful because of a combination of factors, including the dry Texas air that fed them and strong winds in the Great Lakes area. But she said his last wish was for her to have a storm cellar.

News 18 will be live streaming the event, which is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. "It quickly gained strength over Washington County".

Other reports by BadHub

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