Town of Armenia, WI tornado, Mar 1982

Tornado Cleanup Underway in State

Few power problems remained in Wisconsin Wednesday, but cleanup was continuing in scattered areas after a series of tornados and high winds ripped into some north central counties Tuesday, injuring two people and demolishing a few buildings.

Power and telephone officials said high winds and rain overnight hampered repairs to some downed lines, but service was restored in most places.

The two people injured when a tornado toppled a tree onto their mobile home in the Town of Armenia in Juneau County were Marsha Polkowski, 33, and her son, Chad, 4.

Mrs. Polkowski was listed in stable condition with fractures, cuts and abrasions Wednesday morning at St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield, where she had been transferred from Riverview Hospital in Wisconsin Rapids.

Emergency medical technicians who rescued her from the tornado scene said a large tree had fallen on her. Chad, meanwhile, was treated for external injureis and was being held for observation.

The mobile home they were in was demolished, rescue workers said. Larry Kruback, an ambulance attendant from Nekoosa, said of the mobile home, "All that was left was the insulation hanging on the trees."

The same tornado also demolished another nearby mobile home and lifted a house off its foundations along Juneau County Highway G south of Nekoosa.

Much of the state was battered Tuesday afternoon by sudden, severe thunderstorms, hail and winds ranging from 40 to 75 mph. Several counties reported damage to homes, farm buildings and roofs, as well as downed trees and power lines.

The National Weather Service issued storm watches and warnings across the state, in effect all afternoon and into the evening. It said the storms were potentially dangerous because of the tornado spinoffs, large hail and damaging wind.

Tornados also were reported around Pittsville in Wood County, at Highway 54 and County Highway F southwest of Stevens Point in Portage County and at Volk Field at Camp Douglas in Juneau County.

The east and south sides of Madison were hit by hail, and one-inch to golfball-size hail was seen at Finley and at Plainfield, both about 50 miles to the north.

Green County reported slushy hail around Belleville that slowed down traffic but apparently caused no other damage.

The National Weather Service reported wind gusts up to 75 mph at Volk Field, 62 mph at Truax Field in Madison, 60 mph around Menomonie in Dunn County and 55 mph around Portage in Columbia County. A Neillsville radio station said its gauge had a reading of 90 mph.

Strong winds took the roof off a building at Osseo, southeast of Eau Claire, tree and power line damage were reported severe in Dunn County and a food processing plant near Stevens Point had shattered windows.

About 400 Wisconsin Electric Power Co. customers were without power for nearly an hour late Tuesday afternoon when an 8,000-volt power line wrapped itself around a street light at Pier and Lake Sts. in Port Washingto. The power was restored by 6 p.m.

About 1,000 Wisconsin Electric customers had outages overnight because of high winds. Hard hit areas included Dale to Hortonville, where about 350 customers were affected, and Shawano to Bonduel, where an additional 75 customers lost electricity.

The Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, WI 31 Mar 1982