High winds swept through Southeastern Wisconsin Wednesday leaving a trail of damage including flipped semi-trucks and wiped out structures, ensuring clean up crews will be busy for the next several days in Racine and Kenosha counties.
A normal morning at the R & M Auto Body Shop in Racine started off as most do, owner Mike Nelson under the hood of a car. That all changed with a gust of wind.
“I heard this sound like a train locomotive and it’s like, ‘where did that come from?’” Nelson said.
Nelson came outside to find his shop’s roof scattered across the ground. Thankfully no one was hurt.
“I really have no idea how the wind got underneath it,” he said.
About 10 miles southwest, smoke filled the air along the 3200 block of Highway H in Sturtevant. It was the last thing fire crews wanted to see on a blustery day.
“We’re having an issue with the wind,” said South Shore Battalion Chief John Radewan.
Radewan said a large pile of lumber caught fire on a tree trimming company’s lot.
“It’s definitely turning into a bigger operation,” Radewan said.
Winds pushed the blaze into open brush, requiring several crews to respond.
“We’ve got brush trucks on the scene now,” he said. “We’re actually working the perimeter.”
The fire was contained by mid-afternoon.
Businesses weren’t the only structures taking a hit. Shingles were torn off several houses in rural Kenosha County as those who could tried to stay inside.
“If you’re walking it almost blows you away,” said Lisa Groleau.
One property along Highway U and Highway C lost 10 evergreens.
“Normally you get some storms but not this strong,” said landscaper Julio Rodriguez.
It was Rodriguez’s tenth stop of the day with several to go.
“We’re going to be sending a crew up here with chainsaws and Bobcats,” he said.
While clean up crews were just getting started, some students were calling it a day. Case High School in Mount Pleasant and Mitchell School in Racine were part of the power outages.
“The school sent me a text,” said parent Lisa Groleau. “It says, ‘Power outage at Case, students dismissed early.’ I hope my child is OK.”
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