Severe storms, including hail and damaging winds, expected Thursday evening

Cameron Gross
May 19, 2017

"Our firefighters and deputies were lifting parts of trailers off people".

"Our rapid assessment teams were out as the storms were rolling late last night, and today we set up our mobile command unit", Porter said. A spokesman for the National Weather Service confirmed that it was a tornado, but the agency was still trying to determine the twister's strength. "We estimate that more than 100 homes have been severely damaged or destroyed".

Barton County spokeswoman Donna Zimmerman said the tornado that formed near Pawnee Rock remained on the ground for up to 15 miles before dissipating.

The governor told reporters it was "nothing short of a miracle" that more people weren't hurt.

"Somebody was watching out for us because it went all the way around us, and here we are", said White.

More than 27 people were injured in all and 17 of them were taken by ambulances to hospitals.

On Wednesday, families prepared for the worst as they returned home to see if anything could be recovered. Two stayed at a shelter in nearby Cameron, authorities said.

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At noon Wednesday, some residents were allowed back into the trailer park, officials with Wisconsin Emergency Operations Center said.

The neighborhood buzzed Wednesday with chain saws, generators and a visit from Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who called the damage "devastating". Campers landed in nearby lakes, he said. He says that in some cases, the responders left their own storm-damaged homes to help search the mobile home park.

Chetek Mayor Jeff Martin said community members also were pitching in. "It's heartwarming. Everybody wants to help".

The BGCO DR's Mobile Command Center will be stationed at First Baptist Church in Elk City, where all Baptist volunteer efforts will be coordinated.

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. The National Weather Service office in La Crosse received numerous reports of winds topping 50 miles per hour, and trees and power lines are down in Green and Lafayette counties.

The Wisconsin tornado was part of a huge swath of the Plains and Upper Midwest threatened with severe weather and followed a turbulent but less violent night of storms in southern Wisconsin on Monday night. The earlier the storms arrive, the more severe the weather is expected to be, according to the National Weather Service.

Other reports by BadHub

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