By Bill Hudson

PIERCE COUNTY, Wis. (WCCO) — People throughout the Midwest are heading into the holiday weekend cleaning up after powerful, tornado-producing storms.

Storm spotters reported more than two dozen tornadoes in Iowa and Wisconsin Wednesday night. Strong winds tore roofs off homes, blew apart barns and left trees splintered through fields.

At least two people were hurt, and one of them was in western Wisconsin.

GALLERY: Severe Weather June 27, 2017

The National Weather Service confirmed Thursday that a tornado touched down and damaged dozens of buildings in Pierce County, cutting a nearly 12-mile path from north of Ellsworth to just south of Spring Valley.

When Sandy Falde, of nearby Martell, heard the tornado warning Wednesday evening, she and her grandchildren fled to her home’s basement.

“So, I said I’m gonna see what’s going on. Went up and opened the door…I couldn’t believe it, my whole yard was in ruins,” she said.

Fortunately, everyone in the house was safe. The buildings, however, didn’t fare so well.

The twister that touched down left a swath of twisted trees and downed power lines. The cities that bore the brunt of the damage were Martell and Spring Valley.

Larry Madson came home to find his 100-old barn in ruins. He shed tears realizing it was a total loss.

Cleanup began Thursday with family and friends of those affected pitching in to help.

“That’s the one thing about a neighborhood, they are always willing to help you out,” Madson said.

A number of the farms hit by the tornado were a century old and had been passed down in families for generations.

Warren Houdek, of Martell, said Thursday that every building on his property sustained damage, including a barn that’s more than 100 years old.

“Gotta think positive, I got to,” Houdek said. “I can’t let anything around me bring me down, because then my emotions will start taking over and I don’t want that.”

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office says one man was injured in the storm when his barn collapsed around him. He suffered a concussion and was able to go home.

Houdek, who works with the victim, said that the man was checking on cows in the barn when the storm came through. Houdek reported that the injured man texted him Wednesday night, saying he was OK.


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