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Tornado Hits Milwaukee Neighborhood

March 9, 2000

MILWAUKEE (AP) _ An early season tornado touched down near the city’s airport, tearing roofs and signs off businesses, blowing out plate glass windows and overturning cars. Minor injuries were reported.

The tornado and a hailstorm Wednesday night prompted a temporary evacuation of a 40-square-block area in a suburb of Milwaukee while crews fixed a natural gas leak at a fast-food restaurant.

``I can’t figure out why nothing more dangerous happened, why some people weren’t killed,″ said Mayor Milton Vretenar of St. Francis, the community most ravaged near the Milwaukee International Airport.

The roof of a Hardee’s restaurant was ripped off and workers today nailed plywood over broken windows at a mall. Sue Doolin, owner of a cleaners there, lost her plate glass windows. She was working when the tornado struck.

``It was pelting. It was debris all over the place that was being blown over. By the time everything calmed down we looked outside and we couldn’t believe what we saw,″ Doolin said. ``There were cars upside down and tipped over. In the street was an 18-wheeler flipped over.″

The tornado, coming amid unseasonable warm weather, took many by surprise as it struck in advance of much colder weather expected late this week.

At the airport, planes landed and took off with few delays, airport spokeswoman Pat Rowe said. The airport’s power was knocked out, but emergency power systems kept the outage from affecting operations.

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