Tornado Damage--The tornado that went through various parts of Marinette County on Wednesday, June 15 caused extensive damage to the Silver Cliff area and in particular to the Silver Cliff Fire Department and municipal buildings. The building that housed the Silver Cliff Fire Department was totally destroyed along with extensive damage to fire trucks and equipment. Neighboring fire departments have sent trucks and equipment for Silver Cliff firefighters to use until their equipment is repaired. Silver Cliff firefighters were on their way to the station to respond to calls when Fire Chief Alan Walesh, who arrived first reported that the station had been hit. He reported that they would be unable to respond due to the damage. Top Photo: Shows some of the damage the Silver Cliff fire station received during the tornado on Wednesday evening. Middle Photo: A garage door and twisted beams can be seen inside of the fire station. Bottom Photo: Assistant Fire Chief Jeff DeBauche, is pictured examining damage to their 1988 Pierce Fire Engine. The truck received damage to the windshields, emergency lights, mirrors and headlights. Assistant Chief DeBauche said the department is working with S&S Glass in Wausaukee to get the windshields repaired as soon as possible. The fire department and rescue squad will continue to respond to calls out of one of the remaining town buildings.
Tornado Destroys 9 Silver Cliff Buildings, Fire StationIssue Date: June 23, 2022
A swath of storms that swept through northeast Wisconsin starting at about 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 15 brought with it at least five tornadoes and caused widespread property damage and power outages. In some places power had not been restored by the morning of Wednesday, June 22.
Marinette County Emergency Management Coordinator Kathy Frank said amazingly, despite all the widespread downed trees, power outage and wind damage, no injuries were reported.
Hardest hit in the TIMESLand area storms Wednesday evening was the Town of Silver Cliff, where all nine public buildings were totally or partly destroyed, including the Fire Station/Rescue Squad building, adjacent storage shed, town garage and much of the equipment they contained.
One 60' by 110' town building, 35 feet high, was "just totally collapsed and blown away," Silver Cliff Town Chair Town Chair Bruce Weber said. He added that the town trucks inside were destroyed for the most part. He estimated damage at $3 million to $5 million and said it could be a year before the town's services are back to normal.
Weber told reporters most of the town's major damage happened in just 10 minutes. He saw tree branches twisted, windshields broken, buildings leveled, and roofs ripped from structures.
Meanwhile, other area Fire Departments and Emergency Rescue Services are offering help, and private citizens were out everywhere with chain saws immediately after the storm and in the days that followed to help open roads and minimize damage.
There were particular efforts to open at least single lanes of traffic on blocked roads to allow residents a way to get to and from their homes and cottages to care for their animals and get needed supplies, including ice and water.
The National Weather Service confirmed it was an EF2 rated tornado that hit in Silver Cliff, and cut a swath about 450 feet wide and two miles long, with peak wind gusts of 113 miles per hour. National Weather Service said based on radar, the tornado touched down at 6:34 p.m. about four miles north-northwest of the Caldron Falls Reservoir in the Town of Stephenson. It then apparently proceeded to Silver Cliff, where it damaged numerous buildings in addition to the nine town buildings, reportedly lifted one home off its foundation, and flattened, snapped and uprooted trees everywhere, with power lines taken down as they fell, and access to and from homes and cottages totally blocked in many areas.
Weber said there were no injuries reported to the town, but a lot of people called the town hall to say they were trapped in their cabins and needed help getting out. He said efforts were made to get at least one lane of traffic open for vehicles as quickly as possible.
With equipment severely damaged, emergency response services in Silver Cliff faced a severe challenge. In response other Fire Departments came forward with offers to help, including the nearby Town of Lakewood Fire Department, across the line in Oconto County. They met Wednesday night after the storm and offered to assist Silver Cliff and provide mutual aid until its Fire Department is again up and running again. The Silver Cliff Fire Department will be responding to calls out of the Town Garage for now. The Town of Stephenson Fire Department sent a fire engine to Silver Cliff until their trucks are repaired. Many other municipalities offered water and assistance to Silver Cliff.
Frank said investigation is continuing as to whether damage in other parts of Marinette County, mainly the towns of Middle Inlet and Wausaukee in a path along Moonshine Hill Road to County 180, was caused by a tornado or straight line winds. She said the number of roads blocked by fallen trees and downed power lines hampered storm damage investigations.
As of Friday, June 17, power in some parts of the town of Middle Inlet had been out for over 36 hours, and residents were being told it might take days to get it restored. A posting on the Middle Inlet Fire Department web site said thanks to a generous donation from Premium (Nicolet) Waters, they had bottled water at the fire station to share with those who needed it. They posted hours the fire station would be open, and invited anyone to "stop in, brew some hot coffee, pick up water, take a shower, or just say "Hi'."
The Middle Inlet Fire Department also was delivering water for farms and others with animals that needed larger amounts of water. Anyone needing assistance was invited to message the fire department or contact any member so arrangements could be made for water delivery.
Middle Inlet Fire Chief Jon Kleuskens said their fire station never lost power. Power was out mostly in Sweetheart City and Quarry Road, and Moonshine Hill Road. He said there were lots of blocked roads, and volunteer firefighters worked until the wee hours trying to cut paths at least one lane wide so at least people could get in and out of their homes and cottages to care for pets. "Thankfully there were no fires, no accidents, and no injuries that we are aware of," Klueskens said.
Klueskens said their department also offered help to Silver Cliff, and firefighters in the days after the storms delivered bottled water and livestock water where it was needed.
He said Frank had scheduled a meeting with him and other Middle Inlet officials for 10 a.m. Thursday, June 23 to provide information on how they can request reimbursement for expenses through Emergency Management Programs. Frank said as far as she knows, this is the first time the Middle Inlet officials have needed to file these types of reimbursement claims.
Storms hit the Crivitz area north starting about 6:30 p.m., and caused damage in other areas north to Goodman and east toward Wagner. The storms were reportedly traveling at 40 to 75 miles per hour.
In Crivitz, a School Board meeting was briefly interrupted by the power outage, but then the generators kicked in and the meeting continued. A porta-potty at the T.O.P Dog Park south of Peshtigo was toppled by the wind and had to be cleaned and replaced the following day.
According to the National Weather Service, there were four other tornadoes verified in northeast Wisconsin at about the same time, including in the Neenah area, Seymour, Black Creek, Shawano County, Washara County, Navarino and Bowler. The storms knocked out power for over 60,000 customers across central and northeast Wisconsin.
Thunderstorm wind damage was reported across large areas of Wisconsin on Wednesday evening as the storms moved through, including Langlade, Marathon, Portage, and Waushara counties and others.
Three tornadoes were confirmed in western Wisconsin, in Wyeville, La Farge and Mauston.
Several National Weather Service teams continue to conduct damage surveys to characterize the nature of the damage across north-central and northeast Wisconsin. Additional analysis from drone and fly-over footage was ongoing.
Commenting on the surprising lack of injuries statewide, Frank agreed with a National Weather Service spokesman who commented, "Apparently educating people really works." She said he attributed the lack of injuries to people in the tornado warning areas getting the alerts and following advice on when, how and where to take shelter.
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