Wausau Daily Herald from Wausau, Wisconsin on September 1, 1977 · 3
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Wausau Daily Herald from Wausau, Wisconsin · 3

Wausau, Wisconsin
Issue Date:
Thursday, September 1, 1977
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Rib Mt. residents talk about the tornado V,- 1 ' ' . 5... .v 1"! mk-l V.J ir?2i -a , .7 - , MmMC? V-t-i. '..' i5f-r?v - ------- Mr,' i ,,iillill i , -WlHiliilAl nir r-r- -,-v ,,MKmmwm Lumber scattered for blocks Lumber and other debris from Schuette's One Stop Building Center, 1330 S. 11th Ave., Wausau, was strewn two to three blocks by the tornado. Most of the damage was done to the mill shop. Twelve to 14 employes were in the building when the storm hit, but none were injured. Clean - up operations are expected to keep the plant's 120 employes busy. Herald photo by Ray Weinkauf Tornado worst storm to hit Wausau area since 1934 Calendar Wausau experienced its most destructive storm in 43 years Wednesday night, according to persons who were living here in August 1934. On the 18th of that month, a severe windstorm passed through the city and parts of the county killing one man and damaging more than 130 homes and businesses. Damage, in 1934 dollars, was estimated at $500,000. ' The Record-Herald, in its Monday, Aug. 20, 1934, edition, described the storm as "high winds of cyclonic proportions" which hit Wausau at 8:20 Saturday evening. The winds came from the west and swept a path about three blocks wide. It hit first in Marathon Park, and rushed east over the Wisconsin River and through Forest, Jackson and Washington streets. The paper reported that the "young cyclone spent its fury" west of the Milwaukee Road tracks. Most of the damage in Wausau was centered in the Fifth and Jackson streets area where the William F. Beilke and Sons car dealership suffered the heaviest loss, the paper reported. The only death caused by the storm occurred in the Town of Johnson, where Faithful Hargraves, a farmer, suffered internal injuries when he was pinned under his farm wagon. He died the following Monday in a Wausau hospital. The paper reported that both street car and rail traffic were paralyzed for a time as electric lines blew down across some railroad tracks. The electrical power was turned on again Sunday night and cable cars began moving again. The paper ran a 10-inch list of damaged buildings and noted that the report was far from complete. "More damage in so short a time was caused Saturday evening than ever before in the history of Marathon County, according to old residents who claim the wind was more terrific than had ever been witnessed before in the vicinity," the newspaper said. Among buildings listed as damaged were the Heinemann Lumber Co. saw mill; Marathon Electric; No. 1 Fire Station; Leath's; Northern Hotel; St. Paul's Guild Hall; Toburen studio; City hotel; Levenhagen Dairy Co.; Marathon Rubber and Farmers Produce. The worst tornado to hit Marathon County in recent memory occurred Sept. 28, 1971. It did its greatest damage in the "tornado alley" area near Athens. About 26 barns and homes were leveled in Marathon and Clark counties in that storm. There were some similarities in people's reaction to Wednesday night's tornado and the storm of 1934. The paper that year reported tales of lucky escapes, including a woman swept nearly 50 feet by the wind. And the curious flocked to the scene, hampering clean-up efforts. "Shortly after the peak of the windstorm had passed, thousands of persons, mostly in automobiles, rushed to the storm centers, creating traffic jams for many blocks." the paper said. "It seemed the entire population of the city flocked to the storm-stricken area within a few minutes..." Funnels were sighted several times Wednesday night, but the 1934 storm was a tornado only by accounts of people who remember it. The newspaper did not report funnels and referred to the storm as a "wind storm." Association of , Eagles Hall, Deputy risks life to warn others t "" 1- - - -;'"rt '- ""' ' " 48lp , J 'How can I thank you?' Lowell Yankouski, 1902 McCaw Ave., Rib Mountain, paid tribute to Marathon County Sheriff's Deputy Nicholas Rochon, 1903 Falcon Ave., Rib Mountain, for saving his life Wednesday night. Rochon went up and down streets in the Partridge Addition warning neighbors to take cover from the impending tornado that slashed the area. 'How can I ever thank you, Nic?' Yankouski asked, as the officer patrolled streets after the storm. Yankouski lost his home to the storm's winds, but said he was about to take a shower before he heard Rochon's warning. The deputy later returned to his own home, which was also totally destroyed. Herald photo by Bob Radum By JIM LEE Herald staff Nick Rochon's neighbors in the Town of Rib Mountain were stopping by this morning to thank him for possibly saving their lives. "It was just part of my job," Rochon would answer. Rochon, a deputy in the Marathon County Sheriff's Department, was on patrol Wednesday evening when word was received of the tornado warning. He was on Highway 51 at the Rib River when he spotted the funnel cloud west of Rib Mountain traveling toward the town. With siren blaring and loudspeaker in hand, he rode up and down the lanes of the Patridge Addition, north of the Rib Mountain Golf Course, as the tornado bore down. "I was watching the tornado coming and I could see Rochon's car right next to it," exclaimed Jim Bembinster, 1904 Peacock Ave., a resident in the subdivision. "He couldn't have been more than 30 yards away from it. "He was hollering for everyone to take cover and shingles and other debris were pelting his car." Roger King, 1707 Falcon Ave., said Rochon alerted many people who were working in their garages or outside and hadn't heard news bulletins about the approaching tornado. "If it hadn't been for Nick Rochon, I think a lot of people might have been hurt out here," King said. "He came around the block several times with that loudspeaker and siren on." King was one of those who paused to say "thanks" to the deputy this morning. On a normal day, Rochon might have invited the neighbor in for a cup of coffee and a little chat. But this was not a normal day in the Rochon household. Rochon, you see, lives at 1903 Falcon Ave. He was about 50 yards away when "I saw my house explode," Rochon recalled this morning. Though no one in his family was injured, virtually everything else the Rochon's possess was lost. TODAY Wausaqua Water Ski Club Fun Night Show, Memorial Park landing, 6:30 p.m. Job's Daughters, Masonic Temple, 7 p.m. Wausau Lodge 248, BPOE, Elks Club, 8 p.m. Wausau Wheelers Bicycle Club, Wausau Fire Station, 7:30 p.m. National Engineers Wausau. Wisconsin Valley Bricklayers Local 6, Labor Temple, 7:30 p.m. Rib Mountain Gem and Mineral Society, County Historical Museum, 7:30 p.m. Bus Drivers Local 1168, Labor Temple, 7:30 p.m. Minnesota Mining Local 6666, Labor Temple, 7:30 p.m. Closed AA and Al - Anon, Alano Club, 711 McClellan St., 7:30 p.m. Loyal Order of the Moose, Moose Home, 940 S. Fifth Ave., Wausau. Wausau Duplicate Bridge, University of Wisconsin Marathon Center cafeteria, 7:30 p.m. Marathon Town and Country AA, St. Anthony's Retreat Center, Marathon, 8:30 p.m. AA, St. Paul's Guild Hall, upstairs, back entrance, 8 p.m. FRIDAY Marathon Fun Days, amusements, food, music, Marathon, all day. Senior Citizens, Riverside Center, 1 p.m. Wisconsin Valley Shrine, Elks Club, noon. Public blood pressure screening, a service of A. Ward Ford Memorial Institute, Wausau YWCA, 613 Fifth St., Wausau, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. By JIM LEE Herald staff "I watched it come until it started tearing Rochon's house apart. "Then I ran down the basement and laid right on the floor." Jim Bembinster, 1904 Peacock Ave., Town of Rib Mountain, was one of many people who witnessed Wednesday evening's devastating tornado. Viewed from the air, it appeared the whirlwind approached the Town of Rib Mountain from the west side of Rib Mountain. Traveling in a northeasterly direction, it sucked in debris as it crossed County Highway NN near the intersection of Thornapple Road and continued parallel to NN into the so -called Partridge Addition. Thirteen - year - old Tammy Woller, 2102 Patridge Ave. and Renee Laine, 2004 Falcon Ave., were among those who watched the awesome spectacle approach before taking cover. "It was coming right at our house," Tammy said this morning. "But all of a sudden it just bounced to the right and went down Skylark Avenue. " The home of Charles and Susan Kuhnmuench was at 3301 Skvlark. The ranch style residence was picked up off its foundation, carried across the avenue and smashed at the edge of a ravine. Nothing remains that resembles a house except the foundation. For that, Kuhnmuench is thankful. Without it, Susan Kuhnmuench might not have survived the blow that annihilated their home. "My wife was just going down the steps into the basement when the house lifted," Kuhnmuench said. "She just made it." The steps are on the west wall of the basement. They are the only thing left standing in the entire basement. Bill Prinz, 3201 Skylark Lane, Th jO- Dailv Herald Vf v Thursday, Sept. 1, 1977 Wausau area news Divorces granted also lost nearly all of his home except the basement. "V?e had heard a tornado was coming," he said. "They said it was near Kenwood, so we were worried about my wife's sister who lives just north of Mosinee. "Then we saw it coming this way. We had a couple of minutes to get down the basement. " Neither Prinz, his wife, or any of their three children were injured. "We were fortunate," Prinz said this morning as he began clearing away the debris from what had once been his living room, "our basement is in good shape. Some people lost everything." Lowell Yankouski, 1902 McCaw Ave., spent two years building his house.' He completed it last year. Today, it is in shambles. There is a shovel sticking oddly out of the front wall of the Ronald LaFave home at 1903 Peacock Ave. It came from the garage of Jim Bembinster across the street. How it got there is a mystery. Little else in the Bembinster garage was touched. "Somebody's garage flew right over the top of my house," Bembinster related. "You can see the marks on the back of my house, in the backyard lawn and across the street." The homes of Henry Wan-serski, 3307 Skylark, and Fred Raymond, 1903 McCaw, were among those heavily damaged. Raymond was taken to Wausau Hospital North shortly after the tornado struck and treated for possible heart trouble. However, he was back ut his home this morning along with his wife Jane and sons Scott and Paul checking on the debris. Many of those left homeless after the storm spent the night at the homes of friends, neighbors or relatives. And this morning many of the friends returned to help start the recovery. Some of the homeowners were already making repairs, while others appeared to be assessing the damages, still somewhat shocked by the whole scene. "Sorrv to hear about your house, Jane," one of her friends called to Jane Raymond. "We're alive . .all of us," she responded with a smile. "It could have been worse." Tornado's tracks BY TOM BERG KH Herald staff Only from the air can the scope of the dumage be appreciated. The tornado leapfrogged across central Marathon County, laying waste to barns, trees, homes, businesses everything in its path. In contrast to the leaden skies and the torrential rains driven by gale - like winds of the evening before, the morning broke calm. The same sky which would have spelled destruction in the epicenter of the tornado a dozen hours before, welcomed aircraft this morning. From the air, houses lay smashed, looking like so many playthings in the hands of a troublesome child. Truck and cars, toylike, toured the devastation. Airplanes and helicopters drifted back and forth across the area, carrying workers inspecting power lines, reporters and photographers surveying the damage, and the curious. Down helow, the Wisconsin River lowed tranquilly But the river which was the lifeblnod of an area in bygone days was now littered with pieces of homes. Across the river, in the Town of Rib Mountain, houses that look tiny from the air were rent apart, their roofs ripped off. Across the countryside, a trail of broken trees showed the way the tornado had come. Barns, their roofs lifted off and set aside, dotted the ground. Others lay prone. The upper floors of homes were exposed and empty as if a vacuum cleaner had sucked away roofs. Yes, the course of the storm is traced easily from the air by following the trail of broken trees and destroyed homes. But what can't be seen from the air are the broken dreams of those who lived in the path. Robert Bentley, 30, Schofield, was granted a divorce from Linda, 27, La Salle, 111., by Judge Ronald D. Keberle. They were married in La Salle Feb. 17, 1975. Geanette Moulton, 44, Madison, was granted a divorce from Robert, 42, Minneapolis, Minn., by Judge A. Bon Zwickey, Waupaca. They were married in White Bear Lake, Minn., and have two children. Hearing set A public hearing on the use of rfevenue sharing funds for 1978 by Marathon County will be held in the board room of the Courthouse at 7:30 p.m. this evening. County Clerk Ray Ott said everyone is welcome to attend. Closing hours Starting today the Marathon County Courthouse will remain open until 5 p.m. During the summer months the Courthouse closed at 4:30 p.m. v mvi Remains of a home This is what is left of the Mrs. Helen Manhart home at 1338 S. Eighth Ave., Wausau. The home was taken from its foundation, and the flooring rests against a tree and fallen wires across the street. Herald photo by Bob Radunz e&C I,11 -J; 1 i mm Escapes injur)' Mrs. Helen Manhart, 1338 S. Eighth Ave., Wausau, recounts her ride on a mattress during Wednesday's tornado. She was lying in bed when it hit and she ended up about 50 feet from the house. Herald photo by Bob Radunz Rides tornado on a mattress A 79-year-old Wausau woman rode out Wednesday's tornado on a mattress. Unaware of the pending tornado, Mrs. Helen Manhart, 1338 S. Eighth Ave., Wausau, was lying on her bed when it struck. "I didn't even hear it," she told a Daily Herald photographer. "The next thing I knew I was lying under a bunch of boards." Apparently, the woman left the house via the mattress. She recalled falling from it when she hit the boards, many feet from the house. The entire building was moved out into the middle of the street, and flooring went across the street and against some fallen wires. It was estimated the building moved 50 feet from its foundation. Mrs. Manhart, who outwardly sustained a minor cut to her forehead, was concerned about her dog. It was found inder some boards next to the chimney. The animal was in a state of shock.

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