Jim Sterchy celebrated when the power went on at 1 p.m. Tuesday at his business, T.J.’s Timberline Resort & Campgrounds, on Potato Lake east of Chetek in Rusk County.
“It’s like day and night,” Sterchy said. “We run on a well, so electricity out means water out. You realize water is a precious thing.”
The power went out at the campgrounds at 5:30 p.m. Friday, so Tuesday was part of a fifth day of being down, he said.
“It’s been very exhausting,” he said. “We’ve been running around with generators. I had two freezers going. The generators couldn’t keep up.”
Sterchy lost one freezer filled with pizzas that thawed, and he’s concerned beer and other items have gone bad. He has an insurance agent coming out next Monday.
While Sterchy now has power, many in western Wisconsin are still waiting for assistance. Roughly 1,500 homes in Barron County were still without power Tuesday afternoon, after the damage caused by Friday night’s storms.
“We’re not even close (to fully restored power),” said Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald. “It is going to be days for them. It is very individualized for them.”
The outages are widespread across the entire county, he added.
“It’s some by Chetek, it’s Barron, it’s Turtle Lake, Comstock,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s pretty pocketed. We have a lot of trees down on power lines.”
However, Fitzgerald said it was a miracle there still weren’t any reported injuries in the county.
Barron Electric Cooperative updated its Facebook page Tuesday, confirming they are still working to restore power to 1,500 clients, and that they have multiple crews out working on the problems.
Xcel Energy’s website indicates that power has been restored to its customers in western Wisconsin.
Fitzgerald said he still doesn’t have a dollar estimate for the damage done across the county.
Multiple tornadoes have been confirmed touching down across western Wisconsin. Tyler Hasenstein, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, Minn., said one touched down in Polk County, traveling on the ground for three miles with winds at 90 mph, about 1/3 of a mile wide. That landed near Horseshoe Lake in the village of Turtle Lake, and it crossed into Barron County.
A second tornado touched down in Barron County in upper Turtle Lake, with winds of 75 mph. It was only on the ground for 4/5 of a mile, about a 50-foot-wide path, Hasenstein said.
The National Weather Service in La Crosse also confirmed brief tornadoes touched the ground in Trempealeau and Jackson counties.
John Ross, Clark County emergency management director, said the NWS also informed him two tornadoes landed northwest of Withee.
Like Fitzgerald, Ross hasn’t calculated any damage estimates yet.
“I haven’t heard of any residential damage,” Ross said. “I’ve heard of barn and shed damage, and power lines down. As far as I know, everyone has their power restored.”
Ross said the northern half of the county got hit hard on Friday, then the southern half got hit with the rainstorms Saturday morning.
“This was a pretty widespread event,” Ross said.
Dan Schreiner, Trempealeau County emergency management director, said the two tornadoes there landed in fields in the town of Gale. No buildings were damaged.
“We were very fortunate,” Schreiner said. “We had countywide damage, mostly trees down, causing power outages. Most of our power outages were resolved by late Saturday, and our roads opened Saturday afternoon.”
At this point, Schreiner doesn’t anticipate submitting a storm damage estimate to the state.
“We’re not near the threshold limits on this particular storm,” he said.
Schreiner said he does have two reports of minor injuries. In one case, an elderly woman in Galesville had cuts from a window blowing in. In the other incident, a camper had cuts from a fallen tree.
Dennis Brown, Chippewa County emergency management director, said he is still compiling damage estimates.
“We don’t have road damages, so my numbers are really vague at this point,” Brown said. I have to do damage estimates with the state; I put in $60,000 as a marker. Over time, we’ll send in revisions as we get better numbers.”
Brown cautioned people to be careful during cleanup. He said more people tend to get injured in chainsaw accidents after a storm than people actually injured during a storm.