Storm damage

Significant structure and tree damage was reported in the areas around Pulaski and Boot lakes in south central Rusk County.

Severe weather uprooted trees and damaged homes, but fortunately no injuries were reported, after a storm raked across Rusk County on the 4th of July.

Property owners along Pulaski and Boot lakes quickly began clearing away the fallen trees, a few of which had crashed through home roofs or onto cars. The next morning, families were still clearing trees off cars and helping neighbors pick up the debris.

Rusk County Sheriff Jeff Wallace said no storm injuries were reported.

Many people in the storm said the winds hit suddenly, but the storm was over in seconds. Some said they barely had time to seek shelter in a bathroom or other interior room.

Pulaski Lake resident Dan Kelm said his family had just returned from a fishing trip on the water, when the storm began snapping trees on his property. The family was fine but had trees toppled onto the garage. A pontoon trailer also was damaged.

"It came up really fast," Kelm said. 'Things were just snapping."

"It could have been a lot worse the way the trees were snapping left and right," Kelm said.

The Kelm family was inside, when they began hearing the crack of trees snapping.

"We saw the rotation in the sky toward the west," Kelm said. "We barely got in the house, when it started raining sideways. You couldn't see anything, then all of a sudden, the next thing you know, we heard, boom, boom, boom of the trees just snapping."

The family raced for the safety of the basement.

"We tried. We got halfway down, but it was already done. It was over that fast with the real big damage. This[damge] all happened in 30 seconds to a minute," Kelm said. "The next thing you know it is still raining with some wind."

"The main thing is everyone is O.K. Everything else can be rebuilt," Kelm said.

Rusk County Economic Development Director Tom Hall said the storm caused mostly tree damage as it tracked across the county from the southwest to the northeast. He cited damage in the town of Rusk, just north of Chetek, at Pulaski and Boot lakes and near Flambeau School and the Rusk County Airport near Tony.

Hall said a Regional Management Director and personnel from the National Weather Service were expected to inspect the damage in the county today, July 5.

The National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Rusk County shortly after 6 p.m. as the storm was approaching Ladysmith from the west.

The NWS has not yet confirmed a tornado from the storm.

Follow the Ladysmith News for more on this developing story.

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