WAUPUN, Wis. – Residents of central Wisconsin began a massive cleanup Thursday after storms and tornadoes swept across the region, splitting centuries-old trees and raining debris across farmers' fields for miles.
Damage estimates Thursday ran into the millions. Gov. Jim Doyle (search) declared 11 counties hit by the storms as disaster areas.
One man was killed as storms Wednesday evening moved through the central part of the state, an area battered in recent weeks by rain and flooding. Downed power lines cut electricity to about 14,000 people.
Seven people were hurt in Monroe County, where the National Weather Service (search) confirmed a tornado hit. Another apparent tornado cut a swath through Adams County, where authorities reported 11 people were treated at hospitals.
In Waupun, the storms ripped roofs off buildings and toppled gigantic oak trees onto homes. Mounds of tangled limbs, shingles, siding and uprooted light posts, some bent at 90-degree angles, littered the sidewalks Thursday, and the growl of chain saws filled the air as residents surveyed the damage and started to clean up.
"It looks like a bomb went off," Mayor Jodi Steger said.
In nearby Markesan, the storm killed Arnold J. Gallenbeck Jr., 53, and critically injured his wife, Green Lake County Coroner Darlene Strey said.
They were found in a corn field near their home, which was destroyed in the storm. Uprooted trees, broken branches and debris littered their yard. A smashed pickup truck and a washer and dryer sat in a nearby field.
The governor surveyed the damage in Green Lake and Dodge counties by helicopter Thursday afternoon. He said he saw flattened farms and silos bent in half.
"Where it hit, it just hit with incredible force. There's a lot of damage, and it's awesome to see it," Doyle said.