Beaver Dam, WI Tornado, Apr 1980


Beaver Dam, Wis. - Damage from Monday afternoon's tornados will easily exceed $1 million in Dodge County alone, Dodge County Sheriff Ted Meekma said Tuesday.

"It will be tht for sure. It will probably be more," Meekma said.

Meekma said 24 persons were injured in the tornados, one of them seriously. She was Natalie Kahlow, the 1 month old child of Mr. and Mrs. George Kahlow, whose home on Lost Lake was destroyed. Natalie was reported in serious condition Tuesday at St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center in Madison with head injuries.

According to authorities, the child's mother, Jane Kahlow, 24 was pulled from the rubble beside a leaking liquid petroleum gas tank after the storm smashed the home. A neighbor found her 35 feet from where the house had been.

Two sons escaped serious injury, authorities said.


A spokeswoman with Hillside Hospital in Beaver Dam said 17 persons were treated Monday. Most of the injured were treated for cuts, bruises, and broken bones. A total of six persons remained in the hospital Tuesday, the spokeswoman said.

Dodge County Board Chairman Walter Tolzman declared the county a disaster area about 7:30 p.m. Monday night, said Jerry Witte, directory of emergency government for the county. He said authorities would survey the dituation by helicopter Tuesday.

Meekma said it was uncertain how many homes were damaged in the county.

Dale Clark, disaster survey chairman for Red Cross out of Milwaukee, said an exact count of the homeless was still unknown Tuesday morning, but that the Red Cross believed the figure would be about 100.

Most of those spent Monday night with firends and relatives, Clark said, but a few stayed in area hotels and motels.


Clark said that the Red Cross had one mobile feeding unit in the stricken area Monday night and that two were in operation Tuesday.

The Red Cross set up its disaster headquarters at the Beaver Dam City Hall.

According to the National Weather Service, seven tornados were sighted Monday afternoon in Dodge and Washington Counties, all apparently appearing without warning. The service immediately issued a tornado warning after the sightings.

"It was at least two tornados and possibly three that did most of the damage, Dominic Scaffidi, a forecaster with the National Weather Service said. "Most of the damage came from the tornado that hit Lost Lake and then hit Beaver Dam."

The first report of tornado conditions came when the Kahlow home at Lost Lake was destroyed about 3:30 p.m. The final sighting was about 4:30, Witte said.

"We had no warning until it struck in Lost Lake," Meekma said.


Extensive damage from the tornado was also reported in Washington County west of West Bend near Allenton, Addison and Nenno. Other damage was reported between Theresa and north of Iron Ridge.

A number of homes in Beaver Dam were reported damaged. Most of the damage was confined to the northwest and northeast parts of the city.

Beaver Dam officials surveyed the damage in that city Monday and asked the state emergency office to declare the city a disaster area.

By far the greatest damage from the tornados occurred at Mielke's Mobile Home Court, located on Dodge County Highway DE about two miles southwest of Beaver Dam. Authorities searched the rubble of many trailers and located several trapped persons. Of the 27 trailers that were damaged, 15 were destroyed, Witte said.

Dolores Mielke, who along with her husband, Arvid, runs the trailer court, said the tornado hit without warning.

"I was lying down, and then my husband came in and told me to get downstairs quick," Mrs. Mielke said. "Our garage was torn apart.

"There was no warning."

Meekma said a number of barns and farm buildings were leveled or damaged southwest of Juneau. Witte estimated that six to eight barns were destroyed.

Electrical power was still reported out in some areas late Monday night in Washington County.

The storm knocked out the power at WBEV radio station in Beaver Dam for an hour until it started broadcasting about 5:30 p.m.

Besides the various sightings of tornados and damage from the storms, there were also reports of hail up to one inch in diameter in Waukesha and western Milwaukee counties.

Earlier Monday, a tornado touched down in Blair in Trempealeau County, but no injuries were reported.

The Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, WI 8 April, 1980