A tornado ripped through a mobile home park in Chetek, Wisconsin, a small community located in Barron County, injuring dozens of people and killing one, 45-year-old Eric Gavin.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, at least 25 people were injured when the twister devastated the homes.
Gavin was the only fatality. You can read more about his life here.
The tornado was described as a “supercell” that produced three tornados as it swept through Barron, Rusk, and Polk Counties.
A tornado also touched down in Bruce, in Rusk County, destroying seven homes, reports ABC 2.
The newspaper reported that the tornado touched down in the Prairie Lakes Estates trailer park north of Chetek just after 5:30 p.m. on May 16. Seventeen of the victims were taken to hospitals, according to ABC 2.
The Star-Tribune reported that helicopter footage showed several homes were “reduced to rubble.” The Barron County Sheriff’s Department wrote in a statement, “The mobile home park contained 50-60 trailers and several of them are totally destroyed. 17 people were transported from the scene to area hospitals with approximately 5-10 more with minor injuries that refused treatment. One 46 yr old male subject was found deceased.” Twelve ambulances and six local fire departments rushed to the disaster scene, the Sheriff’s Department said.
One man started a GoFundMe page for his sister, writing, “My sister, her 2 daughters and her grandson were in Lot 40 in front of the black SUV (photo below). It’s a total loss. Right now they are in the Rice Lake ER getting checked out but thankfully they are alive.”
It was a night of bad weather.
Multiple people were trapped in Elk City, Oklahoma on May 16 when a tornado struck that community as well. Damage and multiple injuries was also reported in Elk City, although the number of injuries in that community had not yet been released shortly after the twister hit.
ABC News reported that Wisconsin authorities were still searching through the rubble in Chetek later on May 16.
In addition to the homes, turkey barns in the Chetek area were also “hit hard,” reported ABC.
Some of the turkeys were spotted wandering around after the tornado.
Photos and videos from the scene circulated on social media and showed the damage. It was described as “total devastation.”
The identity of the person who was killed has not been released.
Video taken by local television stations showed some of the mobile homes were completely destroyed, and others had their roofs caved in.
Chetek is a rural community of just over 2,000 people. The Chetek website says, “The City of Chetek is located in northwestern Wisconsin on a region known as ‘Indianhead Country.’ We are situated on a chain of six lakes encompassing more than 130 miles of shoreline.” The city’s nickname is “city of lakes.”
According to NBC 15, the mayor of Chetek estimated that the destroyed mobile home park had 50 homes in it.
Emergency vehicles rushed to the scene after the tornado touched down.
A Fox9 reporter said people had 20 minutes warning.
Reporters shot live video:
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