On Tuesday, May 16, one person has been reported dead and at least 25 others were wounded when a trailer park in western Wisconsin was hit by a tornado. The fatal tornado was a part of a storm system that swept through parts of seven or more states all the way from Texas to close to the border of Canada. The storms were accompanied by downpouring rain, strong winds and some states experienced hail, as well.
ABC News reported that, according to Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, who spoke to several media sources, the tornado that resulted in one fatality and over two dozen other people getting injured touch down north of the small town of Chetek, Wisconsin, striking the Prairie Lakes Estates trailer park. According to the National Weather Service, the tornado touched down shortly after 5:30 p.m.
Many of the homes at the Prairie Lakes Estates trailer park were destroyed. Aerial footage shot from helicopters and shown on KARE-TV and WCCO-TV showed the trailer park in Wisconsin experienced significant damage.
Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, in a statement he gave to the Leader-Telegram of Eau Claire, called the devastation caused by the tornado that touched down at the trailer park “a mess.” He said that at least one person died as a result of the tornado, adding that those engaged in rescue and recovery operations were “still in a search pattern.”
Sheriff Fitzgerald said people yelling for help underneath the rubble could be heard by the first responders to the scene at the trailer park near Chetek, a small town located approximately 110 miles from the twin cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Chetek is also around 40 miles to the north of Eau Clare, Wisconsin.
Fox 9 reported that, according to “a public safety source,” all of the firefighters and ambulances in Barron County were called to the trailer park to try to rescue as many survivors of the tornado as possible. The sheriff mentioned that there was at least one child injured when the tornado struck the Prairie Lakes Estates trailer park.
According to CBS Minnesota, besides firefighters and paramedics, the Red Cross also rushed to the trailer park to give assistance to the injured and those whose homes had been destroyed by the tornado. There were also a few homes and cabins around Lake Chetek, as well as several turkey farms, damaged by the Wisconsin tornado.
The mayor of Chetek, Jeff Martin, said in an interview with KSTP-TV that quite a number of emergency vehicles responded to the scene where the tornado touched down at the trailer park, located about 4 miles north of Chetek. Martin stated that he thought the trailer park had approximately 50 homes in it.
The Storm Prediction Center reported that the high winds generated by a tornado can blast an unmoored mobile home right off of its foundation. The Storm Prediction Center website mentioned that in 2011, when deadly tornadoes struck Alabama, Mississippi, and Joplin, Missouri, 20 percent of the 551 fatalities that year, accounting for 111 lives, were people who lived in mobile homes.
By Tuesday evening, there were almost 20 reports of tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service. There were reports of tornadoes from not only Wisconsin, but also from Nebraska, Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. some of the reports might have been due to people spotting the same tornado multiple times. No fatalities were reported in other states, but there have been reports in the eastern Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma of utility poles and downed power lines.
On Tuesday, tornadoes were spotted in several states due to a massive storm system, and one person was killed in Wisconsin when a tornado struck a trailer park near Chetek. There were at least 25 other people injured when the tornado hit the Prairie Lakes Estates trailer park, and many people living at the trailer park have been left homeless.
By John Samuels
Photo Courtesy Addy Adams/Twitter