RUSK COUNTY, Wis. (WCCO) – A friend of Eric Gavin, the man who died Tuesday night when a tornado ripped through a mobile home park in western Wisconsin, says he lost a “high school buddy.”
“I seen him three, maybe four days ago,” said Tom Hoover. “I’m just glad to be alive and have my family.”
Emergency crews found Gavin’s body outside a mobile home in Chetek in Barron County. The 45-year-old was the EF-2 tornado’s only fatality, but more than two dozen other people were injured.
The tornado touched down around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and moved east to Rusk County. There, Ken and Clara Dicuss sought shelter in their mobile home’s closet as the tornado threw their garage across a farm field.
“I was there [in the closet], honey was there and [my son] was holding the door,” Ken Dicuss said. “Could feel the house shake.”
The nearby town of Conrath was transformed into a mess of tangled powerlines and downed trees. Grain bins crumpled like tin cans and farm fields were strewn with debris.
Pam Hayden was grateful her elderly mother escaped the twister that area homes. Like many others, she’s waiting for power to be restored so they can begin rebuilding what was lost.
“[My mother] lost everything, house 100 years old, no barn, no nothing,” Hayden said. “Everything’s gone, horses cut up too, but everybody’s alive.”
She says her mom’s home was historic, built from a Sears catalog kit. It would be 100 years old this August.
In Chetek, the tornado that killed Gavin also injured 25 others. A Jennie-O turkey farm across from the mobile home park was also destroyed.
You can help those affected by the tornado by donating to the Red Cross.