Barneveld, WI Tornado, Jun 1984 - Survivors

By the Associated Press

Some Barneveld and Black Earth residents reacted with a sigh of relief Friday after narrowly escaping a killer tornado which left nine persons dead, 57 injured and dozens of homes and businesses destroyed in southwestern Wisconsin.

In Black Earth, police officer Robert Schuyler was on a routine patrol just after 1 a.m. in a downpour whith visibility near zero.

Schuyler said he turned onto Dane County KP and suddenly felt his car being lifted from the road. It spun around and came to rest in a ditch 75 yards away.

He said he was uninjured and grateful he had been wearing his seat belt and protective vest.

Later Schuyler said he was sent to Barneveld in Iowa County.

"It looks like the movies about atomic war they showed us in the Army," he said.

A Black Earth couple, Darrell Brabender and his wife, Kay, said the tornado did not strike their home with the characteristic locamotive [sic] crash with which it usually strikes.

Before they could get out of bed, the Brabenders said things began flying around the bedroom. The roof began to lift off and the front of the house was blown outward.

They said they jumped out of bed and the mattress lifted off and flew across the room, landing on the crib where their 7-month-old baby was sleeping.

It covered the crib whithout touching the sleeping infant, preventing whirling debris from landing on the child, the couple said. Their other two children, ages 15 and 17, also were untouched, though the house fell apart around them, they said.

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



ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (AP) - "I'll never go back. I told Jim he could, but I would never live in Barneveld again," said Barbara Kinnaird, a former Rock Island resident, who, along with her husband, survived an early morning tornado that nearly wiped out the Wisconsin town of 500.

At least nine people were killed and up to 200 injured.

Mrs. Kinnaird is the former Barbara Michaletti, whose father, John, is city editor of the Rock Island newspaper, the Argus.

The Kinairds operate a Chrysler dealership a block from their home at the east edge of Barneveld.

She called her parents at 4 a.m. Friday to alert them to the tragedy before they heard about it from news reports. At that time, she had been removed to safety but was unaware where she was or where her husband was.

However, she knew she was safe.

Their residence, one of 16 in a new addition, was destroyed.

"The only thing standing is an archway with its bell at the Barneveld Lutheran Church. All the other houses are leveled. Of the eight people killed (the count at that time), six of them resided in the same addition - three in a house next door," she said.

When the winds struck at 1 a.m., Kinnaird said she got out of bed to close the windows.

"As I cranked it closed, the wall went up in the air and roof went with it. The living room walls came down on me and knocked me to the floor. I crawled beneath the bed for protection.

"Jim kept calling for me to leave the house. I couldn't move. Jim had to drag me out. If I had stayed there much longer, I just don't know," she said. "The tornado wiped out the whole town. Our dealership is gone. The metal building is rolled up like a ball of tinfoil."

Her husband had said none of their cars was left on the lot. He didn't know where they were.

By mid-morning she had returned to where their home was - "We almost had to beg to be allowed back in town to view our home and see what we could recover" - and she found a pair of jeans, some shorts and saw many of ther dresses and other clothes lying in a puddle in the street.

"I'm wearing a fireman's boots now, dad," she told Michaletti. Can you bring me a pair of tennis shoes?

"We've lost just about everything," she said. "We don't even have a car to drive. You won't believe it, but the wind took my wedding rings right off my hand. But we're glad to be alive."

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



BNR staff writer

BARABOO - Lucy Lybek is now a great grandmother. But, she hasn't been able to find out where, when or which sex child was born to her granddaughter - a resident of Barneveld.

Early Friday morning, Barneveld was leveled by a killer tornado which claimed nine of that village's citixens. But, while nine were dead, one was born.

"I heard there was a miracle in Barneveld today after the tornado went through," said Lybek, Friday evening. "A baby was born. And, when I heard the last name of the mother, I said, 'That's my granddaughter.'"

But, Lybek has been unsuccessful in finding her granddaughter, Mrs. Thomas Mauger. Phone lines are down and may be out through the weekend. And, she says she can't seem to find anyone who can fill her in on the details.

She did see Thomas Maugher on one of the television reports. But, the health of the new mother and baby remain a mystery.

"I figure the shock of that experience probably caused her to have the baby," said Lybeck.

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