MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Severe storms ripped through Polk County, Wisconsin Friday night — leaving a path of destruction.

The sheriff’s office says winds as strong as 84 miles an hour tore through the county’s northwest corner, impacting the following communities: Cushing, Frederic, Luck, Milltown, Centuria, Balsam Lake, Clayton and Turtle Lake.

“The road was significantly blocked, power lines were down, there’s damage to homes from fallen trees,” said resident Tom Kelly. “It looks like a war zone.”

Kelly lives on Half Moon Lake, which is just a few miles up the road from Balsam Lake. Both were hit incredibly hard by this storm.

Josh Hallberg lives just off of Balsam Lake and watched the storm come in.

“The winds changed just ripping through and we were looking out the window, trees started falling, the roof came off the house, and the kids were scared,” Hallberg said.

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Trees fell down all over the east side of Balsam Lake. Some fell on houses, some fell on docks, and some fell on campers. Hallberg described the scene.

“Just trees everywhere. Water was coming into the house through the roof, we had tubs set up inside the house, and water dripping all over,” he said. “People all over looking in awe, walking around, up and down the road. We are just lucky we are all OK.”

Eldon Herum has been living on this lake for more than 30 year, and this is the worst storm he’s ever seen. He lost multiple trees in Friday’s storm.

“We’ve had wind, but I’ve never lost a tree or anything like that. This is the worst I’ve ever been through,” Herum said.

County officials signed a disaster declaration Saturday. Residents in need of assistance are urged to call the county’s emergency communications center at 715-485-8300.

Katie Steiner

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