Volunteers help clean up tornado aftermath

Local News

People in Chippewa County are dealing with the aftermath of the EF-3 tornado that hit the Town of Wheaton Tuesday night, leaving devastating damage and destroying many homes.

Day 3 brought out dozens of volunteers to help clean up debris in many of the affected areas.

“It’s absolutely incredible to see this entire community come together and really put in effort to help their neighbors out,” said Sam Gerber, a volunteer firefighter with the Town of Wheaton.

The call for volunteers was made Wednesday night and in less than 24 hours later, they showed up.

“People need to help through stuff like this and I always figured, if it happened to us, people would’ve been helping us, so I wanted to come over and put my time in and help out a little bit,” said Clyde Bowe of the Town of Wheaton.

Volunteers gathered at the Town of Wheaton fire station as early as 7 am Thursday morning. Volunteers included community members, contractors, and first responders.

“If it was me, I’d appreciate the help so it’s the right thing to do,” said Mark Wampole of Chippewa County.

Volunteers were responsible for clearing debris, cutting down trees, and clearing out driveways. Many felt inclined to help, even if they weren’t directly impacted.

“It was very sad,” said Kirstin Dutzle of Elk Mound. “It was devastating to see everyone lose their homes.”

Volunteers were shuttled to various areas by school bus which included a storage facility on Highway 29, now destroyed.

Ryan Franz of Eau Claire runs his own auction company and had many antique items stored in his unit. He says this has already set his business back, but he’s putting value on more than just the antiques he lost.

“At the end of the day it really is just stuff,” said Franz. “I’m just thankful that everyone came out safe and we have such a great community here that everybody’s coming in and helping.”

Volunteers say coming together to help one another is what community is all about.

“It’s actually tear-jerking,” said Dan Meyer, volunteer. “There’s hundreds of people that are here and willing to give their time and their effort.”

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