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Tornado does damage in Wisconsin

Cleanup efforts continued Wednesday after a tornado destroyed two homes and damaged 18 others in Wisconsin the night before.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Cleanup efforts continued Wednesday after a tornado destroyed two homes and damaged 18 others in Columbia County the night before.

No serious injuries were reported as storms swept through rural southern and central Wisconsin.

"It could have been much worse," Wisconsin Emergency Management spokeswoman Lori Getter said Wednesday. "It happened when there was still some daylight, and people in the area had warning that it was coming and took appropriate action."

Some of the homes damaged Tuesday night had roofs blown off and some had structural damage, she said.

Five of those hit were trailers or campers at the Sky High Camping Resort just south of State Highway 33, Getter said. A Department of Natural Resources pole shed was also destroyed at the Pine Island Wildlife Center.

"The campground was pretty well deserted because school's still going on and it was during the week," said Columbia County emergency management director Patrick Beghin.

The tornado traveled for about 15 miles south and southwest of Portage through Columbia County, Getter said.

It was believed to be an F1 or an F2 on the Fujita scale, with an F1 having winds ranging from 73 to 112 mph and an F2 ranging from 113 to 157 mph, said National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Collar.

All roads were open Wednesday, and power had been mostly restored, she said.

The storms left about 4,100 Alliant Energy customers temporarily without power, primarily in the Portage area, but all had electricity restored by midnight, utility spokeswoman Erin Dammen said.

"I'm just glad to be walking," Brad Barron said after seeing a tornado touch down in the driveway of his parents' home west of Portage.

"It was right by them bushes and I was at the front door. I ran back in the house," he said.

Since the home had no basement, he said he hid on the first floor, then called his family to tell them he was OK.

"Everybody's OK, so we don't care," added Jackie Pafford after the roof was ripped off her home in the nearby town of Caledonia.

The tornado first passed just north and east of the Wisconsin Dells tourist area, Collar said.

"It's good it didn't hit there," he said.

The weather service was also checking other funnel cloud reports Tuesday evening that had prompted it to issue tornado warnings throughout the region.

One of them was reported 1 1/2 miles west of Barneveld, where a home's roof and the roof over a deck were damaged, Iowa County Sheriff Steve Michek said.

That tornado was believed to be either a high F0, which ranges up to 73 mph, or a low F1, Collar said.

That twister brought back bad memories for longtime residents of Barneveld, where a F5 tornado that hit June 8, 1984, killing nine people and destroying 175 of its 200 homes.

"I think we lucked out" this time, said Ken Palzkill, Iowa County's emergency management director.