Summer in central Wisconsin brought the touching down of 17 tornadoes and millions of dollars in damages this year.
Brant, Crawford and Iowa counties were hit especially hard, according to Wisconsin Emergency Management spokesperson Tod Pritchard.
Although tornadoes have been recorded every month except December in Wisconsin, June typically sees the most tornadoes, with an average of seven to eight, followed closely by July with an average of five or six, said National Weather Service meteorologist Sarah Marquardt. However, there is significant variation every year, she said.
Marquardt said 2010 ranked second for tornadoes in Wisconsin in a year, with 46 tornadoes recorded. In 2011, the state saw 38 and in 2012 there were only four.
In regards to damages, state agencies such as Wisconsin Emergency Management and Gov. Scott Walker’s administration seek to help those affected and minimize damages.
Although oftentimes tornadoes and severe weather events are covered by insurance, damages this year are already in the millions of dollars, Pritchard said.
In lieu of the costs accumulated, the U.S. Small Business Administration on July 15 approved Walker’s request for low-interest federal disaster loans to those affected by tornadoes.
“Cleanup continues from the devastating June storms and tornadoes that hit Grant County and other areas in southwest Wisconsin,” Walker said in a statement. “Low-interest loans from the SBA will provide critical assistance to some homeowners and businesses trying to recover from the damage.”
One of the strategies Wisconsin Emergency Management implements to mitigate the effect of storms is working alongside the federal, county and local governments to buy land in areas that traditionally flood, Pritchard said. Then, he said, they replace homes and businesses located in these areas with green space or parks.
Another way Wisconsin Emergency Management is working to help those that severe weather affected is through using federal money to build shelters for those who have nowhere else to go, Pritchard said.
“We’re taking federal money and turning it in to storm shelters for communities, especially near mobile home parks or places where there’s not a whole lot of places for folks to shelter from a tornado,” Pritchard said. “We’re building a lot of shelters across the state.”
Wisconsin Emergency Management has also worked to train first responders to be ready for various emergencies and disasters. When an emergency happens, Wisconsin Emergency Management is in charge of coordinating between all the different local and county governments.
One of the simplest ways that Wisconsin Emergency Management provides aid is through sandbags positioned across the state. If an emergency were to arise, they would be capable of delivering them to almost any part of the state, Pritchard said.
“You don’t really realize the power of nature until you’re standing in the middle of a historic house or a warehouse or a tree has fallen in to someone’s roof,” Pritchard said. “It may not rise to a national story that makes headlines, but certainly for that family, for that neighborhood, it’s a major crisis in their life that they have to deal with.”