STORM LATEST: Red Cross fundraising and relief efforts

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CHETEK, Wis. (WEAU) -- Red Cross fundraising and relief efforts
CHETEK, Wis. (WEAU) -- While people at the Prairie Lake Estates mobile home are still in shock, the cleanup is getting underway.

Courtesy: CNN

The American Red Cross is continuing to offer support to those affected by the tornado that tore through Rusk and Barron counties.

Reception centers are open at Mosaic Telecom in Cameron and in Ladysmith. The Red Cross says it is not accepting anymore clothing donations, but food donations are still being accepted.

At the center in Cameron, food is available for those affected by the storm, as well as clothing that has been donated. The Red Cross says the past few nights, a few of the victims from Tuesday’s tornado are stay on cots at Mosaic Telecom. The American Red Cross says monetary donations can be made by visiting their website.

Thursday afternoon, Marshfield Clinic made a $10,000 donation; of which $5,000 of that will go to help with relief efforts in Barron County. The other portion will help victims in Rusk County.

The clinic says it hopes their donation sparks more people to give.

As for the rest of the week, the organization says they are prepared to offer even more support .

"We are going forward; we will be having a MARC, which is a multiple agency resource center on Friday afternoon and all day on Saturday,” said Kyle Krigel, the Red Cross Chapter Executive. “This will be an opportunity for folks to come into Mosaic here in Cameron, and we'll have all the other agencies where people can come in get all the resources that they need with their recovery efforts."

Hospitals discuss large scale disaster response
CHETEK, Wis. (WEAU) -- As response crews care for those without homes, an area hospital is applauding the work of its staff.

Lakeview Medical Center saw a dozen patients after Tuesday’s storm. They say they prepare for mass casualty events often, and when the emergency hit, the staff was quick to respond.

"We do drills on this and practice this throughout the year on occasion, but to actually have the event occur and see how quickly everyone took their roles and responded to this is amazing,” said Jackie Klein, the Chief Financial Officer for Lakeview Medical Center.

Concerns raised over mobile home storm shelter requirements

CHETEK, Wis. (WEAU) -- So far in 2017, the National Weather Service says more than 30 people have been killed in tornadoes and of those more than half occurred in mobile homes.

The deaths are raising concerns over whether mobile home parks should be required to provide storm shelter.

Thursday was the first time Julie Johnston has been back in the Prairie Lake Estates mobile home park since a fatal tornado hit her home on Tuesday.

Johnston survived the tornado but lost her home. “This is where our trailer sat, and this is where the shed set. It's just unreal,” said Johnston.

Johnston continued, “I still can't believe I'm here, I just can't believe it.”

The biggest problem though Johnston said was when the storm hit there was nowhere to run for safety.

“I got a hold of the doorway of the bathroom and my whole body was lifted up and then I was thrown and tossed. I was knocked out,” explained Johnston.

Johnston says she huddled in her bathroom, which was the only windowless room of the home for safety, but it did her little good as she was soon tossed 50 feet across the park as her home was lifted up in the air and landed in the rubble before being rescued by a neighbor.

She went on to say, “This could happen to anybody it really can. I mean look at it, it is just a disaster.”

The National Weather Service says around 56-percent of tornado deaths this year occurred in mobile homes but there are currently no requirements for mobile parks in Wisconsin to provide a storm shelter.

Rep. Romaine Quinn (R-Rice Lake) said, “ I do have family members as well that do live in trailer courts, that fortunately there are storm shelters there, but we know that is not always the case as we've seen here.”

Quinn said the lack of requirements may need to change. He plans on looking into legislation to see if requiring parks to have storm shelters could save lives.

Quinn added, “That's something where I'll work with my colleagues, we'll see what other states are doing, and see if that's something we need to do here in Wisconsin.”

STORM LATEST: Walker says damage worst he's seen as governor


Gov. Scott Walker says the devastation the tornado left behind in Barron County is the worst he's seen as governor.

Walker made the comments while visiting Cornell Middle and High school Thursday morning.

The governor toured the damage Wednesday at the Prairie Lake Estates Mobile Home Park in Chetek.

Walker says he's impressed with how the community has come together to help the victims, but the damage is devastating.

"This is, I think in terms of outright damage, both physical in terms of what it did to the landscape, but also in terms of the damage destroying people’s homes I think it's the worst I've seen as governor. I've seen others where it’s done bits and pieces, but nothing like this where you have that many individuals and families affected," said Walker.

Tornado-ravaged mobile home park residents sift through debris
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- An army of volunteers will help those affected by a devastating tornado recover in Barron County.

The sheriff's department says a volunteer reception center will open Friday at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Cameron. Those over 18 years of age can volunteer to help clean up the tornado-ravaged mobile home park near Chetek.

Residents of the Prairie Lake trailer park have been picking through the rubble looking for anything salvageable. Eric Gavin was killed and about two dozen others were injured when the twister churned through the area Tuesday evening. Barron County sheriff's officials say those that remain hospitalized with storm injuries are expected to survive.

Barron County emergency management officials say donations of durable goods can be made beginning Sunday. Officials are currently assessing what affected residents may need.

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