Weekend Storms Wreak Havoc In Area Issue Date: July 25, 2019
The series of storms that swept through much of the Midwest on Friday, July 19 and Saturday, July 20 didn't spare Marinette and Oconto counties. Some parts of the two counties were not as hard hit as those farther south. In Marinette County, the Coleman and Pound areas were his hard as numerous trees were destroyed. In Oconto County, the Mountain area suffered the most from the storms.
Straight line winds of up to 80 miles per hour were reported and thousands of trees fell, often damaging structures and taking power lines with them. Firefighters from every fire department from Wausaukee south were out virtually all night on Friday, as were town, city and county public works personnel and highway department crews.
Cleanup efforts along city streets and town and county roads will probably continue for the next several weeks.
Menominee was not as hard hit, but overall in Michigan more than half a million people had power outages over the weekend.
Flights were cancelled and travelers were stranded, not only at airports but also on highways blocked with trees and downed power lines. Those who did attempt to drive on Saturday afternoon reported visibility was often zero due to the pouring rains.
On July 20 1.43 inches of rain fell in Green Bay, breaking a record for the most rainfall in a single day that had stood since 1903.
One unhappy traveler said she had been terrified driving through Oconto County to her Marinette County destination on Saturday because she couldn't see enough to keep driving, but also couldn't get off the road because she couldn't see enough to find an exit.
Another had been preparing to leave work in Peshtigo and return home to Crivitz at about 9 p.m. on Friday. She saw the threatening storm and decided to wait it out at The Store in Peshtigo. Power went out there briefly but generators kicked in. She said later she was glad she had waited until about 11 p.m. to make the trip home. A large tree had that would have blocked the turn from County
W onto Leftfoot Lake Road had been removed by the time she got there, and a tree that had blocked the driveway off Leftfoot Lake Road also had been removed by family members before she got home.
In Wisconsin overall the storms were blamed for at least nine tornadoes.
Shortly after 7:25 p.m. on Sunday Gov. Tony Evers signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in the state. The declaration pushes all state agencies to provide assistance and authorizes Maj. General Don Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, to activate the national Guard to assist local authorities as needed.
"I know many people, especially in northern and central Wisconsin, have been impacted by the strong storms and power outages," said Gov. Evers as he signed the declaration. "The first responders and utilities have been doing a great job, working non-stop since the storms hit. I want to make sure all state resources are available to help get the power back on and debris removed."
Over 200,000 customers in the Marinette/Oconto service areas lost electric power as a result of the storms and some were still without power as of press time on Wednesday, according to spokesmen for Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) and We Energies.
On Sunday evening Wisconsin Public Service reported 80,000 customers were still without power and WE Energies reported 49,000 of their customers were still waiting for power to be restored. On Monday morning the count was 39,000 WPS customers and 21,000 WE Energies customers still waiting.
Crews have been working tirelessly and had restored power to 180,000 customers since the storms hit on Friday. Crews from other states have been brought in to assist. Priorities are given in dangerous situations, as where downed wires affect structures. If there are downed trees that may have taken wires with them, people are advised to stay indoors or at least a safe distance away until crews arrive to do the removal safely.
As of Wednesday morning, July 24, WPS was still dealing with power outages at one location in Armstrong Creek affecting 36 customers, 20 locations in Crivitz affecting 433 customers, 13 locations in Lakewood affecting 322 customers, one location in Marinette affecting 13 customers, two locations in Menominee affecting five customers, 41 locations in Mountain affecting 693 customers, 12 locations in Suring affecting 119 customers, and 31 locations in Townsend affecting 472 customers.
Numerous We Energies customers in the Oconto/Marinette county area were also still without power on Wednesday morning.
WE Energies Media Relations Manager Brendan Conway was quoted as saying these storms caused some of the worst damage to their networks that they had seen in 20 years.
In some areas were natural gas leaks were caused by uprooted trees. In some places WPS and We Energies grids were so badly damaged that they will need to be entirely rebuilt.
There were no confirmed tornado strikes in TIMESland, but several sightings of funnel clouds were reported. Other areas of central Wisconsin were not so fortunate. Nine tornadoes were confirmed and damage in those areas was more severe.
Heavy rains on top of already saturated ground caused widespread flooding. Saturated ground combined with high winds caused trees to uproot and topple, and some uprooted trees are still dangerously tilted and likely to fall, which poses a continuing danger on roadways.
Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve advises drivers, particularly when traveling through low lying areas like Peshtigo Harbor, to drive cautiously due to the danger that trees may still be falling even though the winds have stopped.
A group on Lake Archibald in Oconto County reported losing six of their 11 vehicles.
On July 20, Oconto County Sheriff's office a call to a Maiden Lake home in the Town of Riverview after a 70-year-old man was injured while cutting a tree.
An incident after the storm on Friday, July 19 claimed the life of a 67-year-old Oconto County man who was injured while trying to remove a fallen tree on Sunset Lane in the Town of Townsend at approximately 10:17 p.m. He and a 39-year-old male were injured while trying to move the tree with a chain attached to a four-wheeler. The chain broke, causing the tree to strike the older man in the head, and he died the following day at a hospital in Rhinelander. The second individual suffered serious eye and facial injuries and was taken by Laona Rescue squad to a hospital in Rhinelander.
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