NEW RICHMOND, Wis.(WCCO) — Severe storms, including at least three tornadoes, ripped through Wisconsin on Wednesday night, causing significant property and crop damage and leaving thousands without power.

The National Weather Service in Milwaukee confirmed three tornadoes in southeastern Wisconsin. Experts on the scene Thursday afternoon in the western part of the state evaluated the damage to determine the storm’s severity.

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“If it was a straight line wind event, everything would be — would have fallen in the same direction usually but since things are kind of all over the place, it’s pretty evident that this was a tornado,” said Melissa Dye, a meteorologist on the scene with the National Weather Service Twin Cities.

Near New Richmond in the township of Erin Prairie, residents and helpful neighbors were pick up the pieces on a farm property with two rental homes and 4,000 acres of corn.

The winds toppled several large trees and split branches on others. Many trees were sawed down and hauled away Thursday. From the air, the path the storm left in its wake is distinct, impacting a narrow sliver of the area.

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Rick Colbeth, 61, said his wife’s family owns the farm. He arrived early Thursday morning to help with clean up and said he was in disbelief when he saw the damage, in part because so few other parts of the community were impacted.

“You’re seeing nothing … then all of a sudden, you get to the cornfield right next to here and you just go, ‘Wow.’ You can track this thing down,” Colbeth said. “Then you come around here and you go,
‘Unbelievable.'”

Colbeth and other witnesses who declined to go on camera were grateful the community was spared the worst case scenario—The St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office said there were no injuries or deaths reported as a result of the storm.

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“It’s not fun, but we’re not with a heavy heart either that someone’s lost or someone’s hurt,” Colbeth said.

Caroline Cummings