Published: Wed, May 24, 2017
Local | By Vivian Poole

Sheriff: 1 dead after tornado hits Wisconsin trailer park


Several poultry barns at a turkey processing plant across the street from the trailer park were badly damaged, and turkeys could be seen wandering in the debris. The circulation and high winds in a tornado can easily rip or even toss a mobile home, which frequently would not have a foundation.

Elk City Public Schools were canceled for Wednesday, the school system said in a statement. "A$3 t least one entire block of trailers is gone", reported Minneapolis television affiliate WCCO.

The weather service says the twister packed winds of 120 to 130 miles per hour, or even slightly stronger, when it hit the trailer park near Chetek on Tuesday evening.

Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) toured the devastation in Barron County on Wednesday afternoon.

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The south side of Elk City, Oklahoma, was hit hardest by one storm, said Mayor Bill Helton. A slight risk for severe storms surrounds Iowa, and includes Milwaukee; Kansas City, Missouri; and Omaha, Nebraska. Five homes were damaged, but there are no immediate reports of injuries. According to the Wisconsin Emergency Operations Center, one person at the park died.

Fitzgerald said crews will stay on scene through the night. The National Weather Service reported a touchdown in the area just after 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

On Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service registered more than 20 reports of tornadoes from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Wisconsin; some of them may be same tornado though.

- Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald has identified the man killed in Tuesday night's tornado that hit Chetek, Wisconsin as 45-year-old Eric Gavin. Many of his neighbors in the trailer park weren't so fortunate.

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

The combination of moisture, an unstable air mass, a weak front just west of the Twin Cities combined with wind sheer to set up the severe storm and tornado, he said. Aerial footage showed a wide path of leveled mobile homes and debris.

A strong area of rotation within a thunderstorm was detected on radar in Southeast Polk County, Wis., around 4:40 p.m. Monday and then moved into Barron County, the National Weather Service said.

Jackson County Emergency Management Director Wayne Cain says the tornado touched down Thursday afternoon near the town of Duke, about 130 miles (209 kilometers) southwest of Oklahoma City. Fire Chaplain Danny Ringer told reporters late Tuesday that the storm destroyed 40 homes and severely damaged up to 75 others.

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Residents said the park had about 50 trailer homes, and at least two dozen were destroyed.

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