Storms leave damage in western Wisconsin |

Storms leave damage in western Wisconsin

Updated: July 29, 2021 06:21 PM
Created: July 29, 2021 07:07 AM

The damage across parts of rural St. Croix County Wednesday night was caused by a tornado, according to emergency managers with the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office.

The department said the National Weather Service confirmed an EF-1 tornado ripped through the area, starting near the intersection of 160th Street and County Road G in Erin Prairie Township before blazing a nearly six-mile path to 100th Avenue and 166th Street in Hammond.

A county emergency manager said 10 to 12 homes were damaged.

"It's unbelievable," said Wayne Schumacher, a homeowner in Erin Prairie Township. "Five minutes, maybe. Did all this damage, all this damage in about five minutes."

Schumacher said he heard a loud crack as a tree crashed onto his roof Wednesday night.

The more than 100-year-old barn on his property instantly collapsed. The storm also brought down 30 large maple and black walnut trees on his property.

As he surveyed the damage Thursday morning, a group of good Samaritans stopped by to offer help cleaning up.

"I couldn't even believe it. There are some really good people in this world," Schumacher said.

Mike Kappers is leading the complimentary cleanup effort with a crew of about six people cutting up downed trees and hauling away debris.

"It's a disaster, it's a disaster. I feel really bad for these guys," Kappers said.

Kappers owns Apple River Hideaway Campground in nearby Somerset but sprang into action when he heard people needed help.

"That's what people do in a small town. I get a little teared up thinking about it," Kappers said. "We're just glad to help."

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS also spoke with a family near River Falls, whose large barn collapsed in the storm.

"My kids and I were watching from the patio the thunderstorm and we heard a big gust of wind and a huge crack and a boom and we ran inside. We almost couldn't push the door inside off the patio," said Alanna Leisen.

The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office said no roadways or bridges were damaged or washed out in the severe storms. They noted only one report of a minor injury.

The powerful storms impacted much of the state Wednesday night. 

In New Richmond, Wisconsin, a 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew reported trees had snapped and were uprooted by the overnight winds. Some damage to a home in the area was also reported.

Governor Tony Evers issued a statewide state of emergency Thursday, noting widespread damage, downed trees and power lines, power outages and road closures due to debris.

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