I wasn’t sure if I wanted to inform people of where I am from but a huge tragedy hit our area Tuesday night and after posting about it on Instagram and Twitter, I realized the crazy amount of support we have received. I have seen my community come together in such a fantastic way that it makes my eyes fill with tears just thinking about it. I need to share the way we have grown as a community and have leaned on each other in this time of need.
First off, I need to mention that most of these pictures are not mine as mine didn’t turn out. They belong to many of the news outlets in my area as well as a friend of mine on Facebook.
Tuesday evening we had a storm which isn’t anything out of the ordinary for us here in Wisconsin, especially in the spring time. The sirens went off about 5 pm in my town as well as in the surrounding towns that make up our small town community. My children freaked out and were afraid, but I told them there wasn’t anything to worry about as I kept my focus on the news, seeing that the worst of the storm was south of us.
My mom’s town got hit with the outskirts of the worst of it, ending up with flooding in the streets and ping-pong ball sized hail. My four-year old was worried for her Nana so I called her so my daughter could hear and know that Nana was alright. We talked for a while about the storm and what was happening in our cities that are only 15 minutes apart. My dad mentioned the sound outside and how it was weird to him. In all of his 60 years he had never heard such a sound. It was as though there was a train coming through the area, and although my parents live right next to the railroad tracks, there was no train coming that day. I could hear it, too.
As I was watching the news and talking to my mom, I noticed there was what looked like a circle of dark purple and red on the radar the news was showing of the storm. A few minutes later our scanner began to go off. They were calling all emergency personnel to a trailer court about 9 miles south of us. The circle I had seen on the radar was a tornado. We were already under a tornado warning which meant there was a funnel cloud spotted but this was the first time in at least 10 years that one had touched the ground in our area.
The tornado went for roughly 60 miles, wrecking havoc on our area, however, the trailer court got hit the worst. No one had time to prepare and the court is too far away from either of the two closest towns to hear the sirens that had gone off roughly 15 to 20 minutes before. Roughly, 15 trailers were completely demolished and more had damage. People had to be pulled from underneath the rubble and unfortunately, one was killed.
The Red Cross set up a station to help and immediately people were reaching out to others in the community. We want to help. People were volunteering to clean up; to give food, shelter, clothes; offering rides to work or other places; offering daycare so parents can return to work or help clean up the aftermath of the devastation. Businesses have opened their doors and have welcomed those in need of anything to come to their business and access the services for free. We are receiving help from all across the state to rebuild. There’s been celebrities remarking that their thoughts are with us in this area and the support as been incredible.
It warms my heart to see such support. My cousin’s house was hit but thankfully their house was ok. The only damage was to trees and their garage. I want to help and offered to help in any way possible. I have offered rides, daycare, clean up, and plan to offer clothing, toys, and housewares as soon as a list is made. There was so much support and donations given on the first night that the Red Cross had to tell people to stop bringing in donations until they can fully assess the needs of the people who have lost everything.
Recently it has been discovered that there was more than likely either two separate tornadoes that made the 60 mile stretch wrecking havoc or the single tornado was much larger than they had originally thought. They had originally thought it was an EF2 but are now possibly jumping that rating up to an EF3. It has caused nearly $10 million in damage, $100,000 of that to my cousins property alone.
The weather has been of no help for clean up lately either. It’s been raining off and on nearly every day and in fact, today is the first day where it has yet to rain. This has added to the problem of trying to clean up and salvage what little bit those affected have left. For instance, my cousin now has a flooded basement with many of their belongings having to be thrown away due to the water damage they have sustained.
The support has warmed my heart and to see the community pull together to help each other has been incredible. We have put aside our differences. We don’t care what color the others skin is, what language they speak, what religion they follow, or about sexual preferences. We don’t care about the prejudices that have been plaguing our nation as of late. All we care about is offering to help those in need in whatever way we can. All we care about is standing strong and supporting each other as we try to rebuild our small community. I am blessed to call this place home for all 27 years of my life. Prayers for Chetek!