Barneveld, WI Tornado, Jun 1984 - Seek Federal Aid


BARNEVELD, Wis. (AP) - The state says it may request $20 million in federal emergency funds for a two-county area in which tornadoes claimed nine lives Friday and injured about 200 persons.

The figure from Larry Sperling of the state Division of Emergency Government was the first fiscal statistic to dramatize the devastation which officials said included more than 90 homes destroyed in Barneveld alone, a farming community of about 600 persons.

"We are likely to ask (Saturday) for a little over $10 million for Barneveld, and $8 - 10 million for surrounding areas of Iowa and Dane Counties," Sperling said.

He said it may take a week to assemble an over-all damage estimate.

"I have never seen damage like this," Gov. Anthony S. Earl said. I don't know what the assessed valuation of this community was, but it can't be 10 percent of that now."

The governor flew over the damaged area and walked through Barneveld as traffic patrolmen and the National Guard sealed off the area to dissuade curious travelers from approaching the community while searchers hunted for victims in the ruins of dwellings.

The storm struck about 1 a.m. during a period of thunderstorms, evidently sweeping along the crest of a broad ridge on which the community sits.

Dane County said the stormy weather damaged some homes a few miles east of Barneveld about 30 minutes earlier, and that three persons were injured.

It was Wisconsin's worst killer storm since April 27 when a series of storms claimed three lives and caused $25 million damage. The state's worst took 117 lives in 1899 in St. Croix County.

Five of the 57 persons hospitalized were listed Friday evening in critical condition.

Many of the injured were taken to hospitals in Dodgeville and Madison. Temporary housing was provided at Dodgeville High School while homeless persons made arrangements to move in with friends and relatives.

"There are many, many people who are going to need long term help," Earl said. "Seeing such destruction, we recognize how frail all things human are. You can't believe it."

"The longterm disruption of lives, putting families back together, will be a challenge as well," he said.

Peter Senn of Campbellsport, chairman of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's state Emergency Board, oversaw plans for distributing food.

Dale Keltner, director of American Red Cross Disaster Services, said "ninety homes destroyed, 30 (more) damaged to the point where they cannot live in them."

"There are 24 homes that are still livable, 30 businesses and-or public buildings which are destroyed," he said. "So for the most part, this little community is gone. Basically the only thing that is left standing is the water tower."

"Both sides of the main street have just been battered. There are no roofs on any of the homes. Most of the homes are flat. All the trees have been stripped of their foliage. The National Guard is here. It definately looks like a war zone," he said.

"For the most part, the victims who came in were stunned," Larry Dunning, principal at the Dodgeville school, said.

"They were awakened in the middle of the night in their beds, many of them with boards and plaster and roofing on top of them, digging their babies out from under those kinds of things; little kids coming in with badly scratched faces and mud in their hair and so on," Dunning said.

"Most of the folks were just happy to be alive," he said.

Susan Aschiliman, 24, said her 2-year-old son Matthew was killed when a door flew off its hinges and struck the two of them as they attempted to get to the basement of their home. She was hospitalized in Madison with back injuries and a finger amputation.

Coroner Timothy Correll of Iowa County identified other dead victims as:

- Bruce Simon, 35, his wife, Jill, 31, and their daughter, Cassandra, 8, who officials said were sucked out of their home.

- Harold Kirk Holland, about 35; Robert Arneson, about 55; Ralph Hammerly, 38, whose home collapsed on him; Elaine Slewitzke, about 55, and her brother, James of Mosinee.

Neighbors said Slewitzke was visiting his sister to help her paint the house in which they died. The house was next door to the Aschilman house.

The Holland house was across the street, where Holland's wife and teen-age son made it safely to the basement.

Arneson died in his farm home where his daughter, Sara, 20, required 20 stitches for a leg wound after being trapped in debris. The storm also destroyed the family's barn and three silos.

Ted Stimach, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Madison, said more tornadoes could develop in southern Wisconsin through Saturday.

"The next real possibility for tornadoes is tomorrow (Saturday) during the day when another major front goes through," he said.

"It is an unusual situation; Three independent storm centers" have been pushing through Wisconsin, he said. "Because those systems have stalled out over the upper Great Plains, it has created tremendous instability which have caused all the thunderstorms (and high winds) the last couple of days."

The Baraboo News - Republic, Baraboo, WI 9 Jun 1984