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Residents Face Aftermath of Killer Tornado

August 31, 1992

WAUTOMA, Wis. (AP) _ Hundreds of volunteers helped clear streets of uprooted trees and overturned cars left by a tornado that killed two people and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes.

Gov. Tommy Thompson, who toured the site by helicopter Sunday, estimated damage from the Saturday night storm at $5 million.

Three of the roughly 30 injured people remained hospitalized late Sunday in critical condition. About 100 people were homeless.

The twister touched down at least twice on the outskirts of Wautoma, a town of 1,600 people 100 miles northwest of Milwaukee. It cut a path a half-mile wide and 21 miles long, ripping apart homes, farm buildings and businesses.

″It was just like 500 carpenters pulling nails, the creaking and cracking,″ said Bob Schmidtke, whose home was destroyed.

The tornado hurled JoAnne and Lou Monty’s mobile home and garage several hundred feet into a beauty parlor’s parking lot, killing Mrs. Monty, 66, and leaving her husband hospitalized with 70 stitches and broken bones.

″He got up to close the door and was knocked up against the wall. The next thing he knew, he was sailing through the air. He came down over there in a ditch, in the water,″ said the couple’s daughter, Judy, pointing to a trench 100 yards away.

An unidentified elderly man who had heart trouble died in his home during the storm, said Jerry Miller, Waushara County emergency government director.

Thompson said 316 dwellings were damaged or destroyed. He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency would help state and local officials decide whether to seek federal disaster aid.

A curfew was in effect overnight to discourage looters. Four people were arrested Sunday evening for looting, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Miller said all roads were passable by late Sunday, thanks to the volunteer cleanup crews. All electrical service was expected to be restored today.

Update hourly