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Storms severely damage historic building on Carroll University's campus

Posted at 9:08 PM, Jun 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-28 22:08:25-04

WAUKESHA — Residents are cleaning up after powerful winds tore through Waukesha County Thursday evening.

A lot of the damage was centralized at Carroll University. Uprooted trees took down power lines and blocked sidewalks and streets all over. The storm was so intense, it crushed a garage and roof at a nearly 90-year-old building on campus.

"Totally in shock," Marge Hoppe, the landlord of the building said. "You watch on the news and you see people with these floods and tornadoes. You think, oh my gosh. That's so sad. But when it happens to you, I woke up at 4:00 a.m. thinking, did I dream that or did this really happen?"

Hoppe runs an antique and book store on the bottom level of the building. She says she has eight tenants who stay there. Most of them were away from the building but one of the residents there lived in the home where the ceiling caved in.

"He was home but he was in the bathroom," Hoppe said. "When nature calls, you go. That's what saved his life."

As a result, the entire building is water logged. Rain from overnight pooled on the roof and ended up pouring inside the building. The carpet in the hallways turned darker as footsteps squash water with no place to go.

"Terrible," Hoppe said. "You just really can't believe it's happening."

Fire officials surveyed the home during the day and say it's uninhabitable. A decision on the building's future is still to be determined but the residents inside will have to find some other place to live in the meantime.

"We really feel sorry for the residents," Hoppe said. "A lot of them are like family. They've been here 8, 9, maybe 10 years. It's like family. The insurance company says, don't worry about them. Well we do worry about them."

For several blocks around the building, they were dealing with similar issues. Uprooted trees destroyed sidewalks, cars and some parts of homes. With power lines down, many streets were closed off.

"We had to practically walk in the road to get around it," Nate Ellwitz of Waukesha said. "I was absolutely shocked. I didn't know what to say. When you see all the trees uprooted and everything around here, it's much more than we expected."

The City of Waukesha will let residents drop off storm branch debris for free over the next week. There will also be debris pick up on the sidewalk and curb in certain areas. For more information, see the attached release from the City of Waukesha