Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

'There's nothing. Everything's gone': Rusk County cleans up tornado mess as rivers rise from heavy rainsSubmitted: 05/18/2017
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

'There's nothing.  Everything's gone':  Rusk County cleans up tornado mess as rivers rise from heavy rains
RUSK COUNTY - At least four government teams assessed damage on the ground in Barron and Rusk counties on Wednesday.

Those teams saw destruction which will reach into the millions of dollars in damage. Tuesday night's tornadoes killed one person and injured 25 more.

In Conrath in Rusk County, John Polak had to pause every few minutes while recounting his story of surviving the tornado. Freight trains rumbled behind his home, making it hard to hear.


But Polak said the tornado was at least four times as loud as any train.

"A noise like you've never, ever heard before," he said. "It was a horrific sound of stuff getting [broken]."

Polak and family members rode out the tornado in their basement.

"We were just stuck in the basement, because everything from our upstairs fell down in the entryway to get out of the basement," he said. "I just started throwing [stuff] out of the way until I got out."

Polak's home by the train tracks, near the constant rumbling, has been in the family since 1923. On Thursday, sounds of cleanup help from family and friends were the loudest.

"There's so much to do, and you just don't know where to start," he said.

The home was the only one completely destroyed in Rusk County, which suffered almost $400,000 of residential damage.

"There's nothing. Everything's gone," Polak said.

While heavy winds led to home damage, heavy rains led to overflowing rivers.

Main Creek closed roads near Conrath and sunk bridges in Tony. The riverbed couldn't hold Pokegama Creek near Cameron in Barron County. Barron and Rusk counties remain under an official state of emergency.

Gov. Scott Walker toured storm damage on Wednesday in Chetek. He was back in northern Wisconsin Thursday.

"This is, I think in terms of outright damage, both physical, in terms of what it did to the landscape, but also, in terms of the damage of destroying people's homes," Walker said. "I think it's the worst I've seen as governor."

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

PHELPS - The Phelps Historical Museum hopes to promote interest in the town's past. It saw the traditional kickoff of summer as a good time to open it's doors for the season.

The museum hosted an open house on Memorial Day. Admission was free and the event ran from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

+ Read More

ARBOR VITAE - Firefighters in Vilas County called a trailer home a total loss.

Jane Fosch left her home to visit family Monday. Not too long after, her house was up in flames.

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - Many people see Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer. The real meaning behind the day can get lost in all the picnics and family get-togethers  

"It's not about barbecuing or any of that stuff; it's about saying thank you and mourning those who passed away for our freedom," said Commander of the Eagle River VFW Post 8637 Denny Geiseman. "Some gave it all, and they gave the ultimate sacrifice, and they should never ever be forgotten. Never."

+ Read More

WOODRUFF - Anyone with a craving for Chicago-style hot dogs or french fries know they can count on Hoggie Doggies in Woodruff.

This season, dedicated customers will see a new face behind the counter.

This month Steve Pletta celebrated his first season as the owner of Hoggie Doggies.

+ Read More

ST. GERMAIN - A popular Northwoods tradition draws in thousands of flea market fans.

Visitors from near and far attend the St. Germain Flea Market each year in search of treasures old and new. There's something for everyone.

+ Read More

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Nearly 60,000 names line the walls of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, more than 8 million men and women served in the Vietnam-Era conflicts in the 1960s and early 1970s. More than 7 million veterans who served in the Vietnam War are alive today.

Last week more than 80 Vietnam-era veterans from northcentral Wisconsin boarded the 28th Never Forgotten Honor Flight.

To them, those 60,000 names are personal.

+ Read More

ARBOR VITAE - Firefighters never leave the station without their gear, because they know it could save their lives. That's why it's important they have the best equipment.

Arbor Vitae Fire and Rescue recently put 11 sets of brand-new turnout gear into service. Fire Chief Mike VanMeter says the new gear replaces the 12-year-old equipment they've been using.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here