By Sara Tischauser
Storms moved across the area Friday and Saturday and left many without power in the aftermath. Cleanup from the storm continued throughout the weekend and beginning of the week.
On Friday night, John Tienor, Eastern Wisconsin Stock Car secretary, said they held the race on Friday, July 19 at Outagamie County Speedway in Seymour but had to stop the racing before the last race of the night (the IMCA modified feature) ran. Tienor said they had a weather spotter at the track the entire night to make sure it was safe to race.
When the spotter saw the tornadic activity in Shawano, Tienor said they decided to call off the race and give people the choice to seek shelter at the track in one of the two storm shelters or to leave. He said about 90 percent of the people chose to leave and with the assistance of the police department were able to evacuate the track quickly.
“There were police at Highway 55 and West Pearl to help get people out quickly,” Tienor said about the evacuation. “We appreciate greatly the police department’s help.”
Brett Stauber, Seymour police officer, said it was a good decision to evacuate the track and the police department assisted to make sure people were able to leave the track safely.
“We assisted by stopping traffic on Main Street and West Pearl Street so fans and race car haulers could leave the area as quickly as possible,” Stauber said. “The evacuation was completed just before the storm hit Friday night.”
Tienor said track staff helped get the drivers packed up and out of the track and made sure everyone was taken care of before the staff took shelter. The track did sustain some damage from the storms.
“Our pit grandstand that holds about 450 people was completely destroyed,” Tienor said.
He said the grandstand folded in five areas and moved about 50 feet from its original spot and came off the foundation.
John Schoen, Seymour Department of Public Works (DPW) director, said while there was damage to Seymour the damage could have been much worse.
“There were two significant damage issues on private property, a tree fell on a house on South Main Street and a tree fell on a garage also on South Main Street,” Schoen said. “The city’s most damaged item was to the visitor’s dugout roof at Rock Ledge hardball diamond [which] totally blew off and will need replacing. There was also some damage to equipment within the WWTF [Wastewater Treatment Facility] due to lightning.”
Stauber said they had damage on both Friday and Saturday night.
“High winds knocked down part of a large tree, blocking North Main Street near Pearl Street for a few hours until Seymour DPW could clear the road,” Stauber said about the storm Friday night. “Power was lost around 10 p.m. Friday night and was not restored to all of the City of Seymour until Sunday morning.”
On Saturday another storm came through Seymour.
“Seymour also experienced high winds Saturday morning during the severe weather event, and all available firefighters were summoned to the fire station ahead of the storm to be ready to respond if needed,” Stauber said.
Shiocton was impacted by the storms that hit on Saturday. Dan Conradt, Shiocton DPW employee, said there were lots of high winds that went through the area and knocked trees and branches down that landed on power lines.
“The only damage we experienced were limbs down and one resident had a tree limb hit their garage,” said Shiocton Police Chief Amber George. “We were all pretty lucky here.”
Conradt said the entire Village of Shiocton lost power at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday and parts of the village had power returned by 8:30 p.m. Saturday and the entire village had power returned by 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The storm had some impact on the Shiocton Fly- In, but Conradt said the weather did not stop the Fly In from happening.
“The Fly In went on,” Conradt said. “They had a generator. It [storm] slowed them down some but didn’t stop them.”
When the tornado sirens went off on Saturday Brian Laedtke, Shiocton Flyer’s Club secretary, said they evacuated everyone from the Fly-In. However, when the power went off he said they still had the hangar door open and couldn’t shut it without power so 70 mph winds went through the hanger. He said that was pretty scary.
The first band on Saturday played in the hanger but Laedtke said the Saturday night band and Sunday band both played outside. Laedtke said they made the best of the situation and kept the event going.
Also, because of the weather Conradt said airplanes were not able to take off or land because of the soft ground from the rain.
The storm brought lots of rain but Conradt said it was hard to tell how much rain they got because with the wind blowing so much he didn’t think the rain gauge provided an accurate measurement of how much rain fell.
During the cleanup on Saturday, George said the police department was available to assist however they could.
“I responded after the storm hit from about 1:30-9:30 p.m.,” George said. “The department assisted as needed with concerns. We did not have any calls for service but DPW was working on clean up and WPS [Wisconsin Public Service] was trying to get power back. We monitored the traffic flow around these areas for the workers’ safety.”
Gerry Schuette, Black Creek DPW director, said they had minor damage in the Village of Black Creek from the storm that went through at about 9:15 p.m. on Friday. He said as far as he knew it was some smaller trees that came down on Friday and there were no flooding issues or power outages.
However, another storm hit Black Creek around 11 a.m. on Saturday that did a lot more damage. Schuette said State Highway 47 was closed for about three hours while a tree was removed that was blocking the road. He said at least 20 trees went down in Black Creek and they were busy cleaning up the mess and getting streets open for travel.
Power was out throughout the Village of Black Creek and Schuette said some areas in the southwest corner of the village didn’t have power back on until Monday morning.
During the storm on Saturday, Schuette said they were also dealing with a broken water main on County Highway B and State Highway 47.
“It [water main break] took us two hours to get under control [on Saturday] and we just repaired today [Monday],” Schuette said.
In addition the pump by the train track on State Highway 54 failed on Saturday and caused some minor flooding that closed down State Highway 54 briefly.
Black Creek Police Chief Lowell James agreed there was damage throughout the Village of Black Creek from the storms.
“We responded to a rescue assist for a person driving in a vehicle that have been struck by lightning,” said James. “One home was heavily damaged by a falling tree. We had numerous trees down in the village.”
During all this, Schuette said the fire department was on hand and took care of any detours that were needed and worked diligently to remove trees and get roads passable again.
“We would really like to thank our fire department, they are a bunch of amazing guys,” Schuette said. “They do so much for community, absolutely amazing.”
While power was out in much of the area, Schuette said one of the concerns was that everyone had water for themselves, livestock and pets. He said they set up a watering station for anyone who needed water. Schuette said in the 24 hours the watering station was up and running they went through about 20,000 gallons of water.
Timber Creek came in on Sunday and will continue coming in throughout the week to pick up brush that is put on the terrace/edge of street in the Village of Black Creek.
During these storms many county and city employees and volunteers made sure everyone was safe and worked on getting the damage cleaned up.
“Despite being flooded with calls from all over the county the 911 dispatchers went above and beyond their normal duties to get help to where it was needed most during both storms,” Stauber said. “The firefighters, who are volunteers, were ready to respond as soon as the storm passed and helped patrol the city looking for hazards and citizens in need. Also, the city public works employees came in after hours and over the weekend to help clear and pick up debris. It was a community effort to respond to the storms and get the city back up and running in the aftermath.”
James said the small community really came together during the storm and everyone was helping each other out.
“I would like to add that there is nothing like a small community to show neighbors helping neighbors,” James said. “Very shortly after the storm passed you could hear the sound of chainsaws and saw groups of neighbors helping each other clean up. When it was apparent that we [would] be without power for an extended time I saw generators being set up with cords running between homes to power refrigerators and lights. It was awesome.”