Barneveld, WI Tornado, Jun 1984 - Damage $21.5 Million


Special to the Journal, AP, UPI

The federal government was asked Saturday to come to the rescue of the hundreds of residents of the Barneveld - Black Earth area who lost their homes and posessions in a tornado Friday.

The Division of Emergency Government estimated total damage in the two-county area at $21.5 million.

The storm killed nine people and destroyed 93 homes in Barneveld and eight more in Black Earth.

Gov. Earl Saturday signed a formal request for a presidential declaration of the two-county area as a disaster area.

The state is asking for $6 million to be used for housing the homeless, unemployment assistance, and home and farm loans.

Earl, miffed because Oneida and Vilas Counties did not qualify for federal help after a tornado April 27, said, "If the Barneveld area doesn't qualify, then Congress ought to rewrite the act." US authorities had said not enough homes were damaged in Vilas and Oneida Counties.

"I have determined that this situation is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments," Earl said. "Supplementary federal assistance is necessary to ensure the health and safety of the affected citizens and to restore the economic viability of the area."

Earl continued:
"Federal help is absolutely necessary, Mr. President. Wisconsin was struck a severe blow by the April 27th tornado in Menominee, Oneida, and Vilas Counties. We should have been assisted then, and my letter of protest and appeal of that decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency has hopefully reached you by now. To not grant Wisconsin this Presidential Disaster Declaration now would be a cruel second blow to our citizens."

At Earl's side Saturday was Rep. Robert Kastenmeier (D - Wis.), who pledged to help secure the money.

The request will go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency office in Chicago and then to the president. Earl said the state should get a reply early this week.

The estimated loss for the area breaks down into $12.6 million in homes in the villages, $900,000 in public property, and $8 million in rural homes, barns, and farm equipment, the Division of Emergency Government said Saturday.

The federal money sought is for costs not covered by insurance or for loans.

In Barneveld Saturday, crews were working on restoring electricity and phone service to what is left of the community of nearly 600 persons. Residents were going about the business of trying to restore their posessions.

About 50 National Guardsmen remained on duty and will stay in Barneveld for four or five more days, Earl said.

The list of property lost in Barneveld included 93 homes destroyed, 33 with major damage and 31 with minor damage. In downtown Barneveld, 17 of 18 buildings were leveled.

In neighboring Black Earth, 8 homes were destroyed and another 16 damaged.

The communities are about 12 miles apart, and the tornado ripped up 24 more homes between the two villages.

Edwin Addison, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in Madison, said winds in the tornado were estimated at 200 mph and, at its worst, the tornado was one-quarter of a mile wide.

"Some tornadoes might be only about 30 feet wide, and some have lower winds' this was a bad one, the worst I've ever seen," he said.

He said the tornado that ripped through Barneveld was unusual in that it stayed close to the ground during most of its course.

Aid stations set up

The Red Cross set up aid stations at Barneveld and Dodgeville and a clearinghouse in Madison. Relatives or friends can call (608) 255-0021 to find out about friends affected by the tornado. Victims also are being urged to keep in touch with that number so friends can be informed, according to Marty Gifford of the Dane County American Red Cross chapter.

Gifford said people had been left without such essentials as eyeglasses, medication, shoes, underwear, food and other clothing. Their biggest need now is cash, she said.

The Red Cross has set up stations in Barneveld where residents can receive vouchers for the purchase of needed items, she said. In the cae of medications, some people's lives depend on a prescription, she said.

Also being provided are vouchers for the purchase of such things as refrigerators, or for the repair of refrigerators.

Help, financial or otherwise, is being offered to the Red Cross to families planning funerals.

A team of Red Cross workers from throughout the state and from St. Louis are on the scene, she said, assessing needs and getting volunteer help to places where it is needed.

Hundreds of people from all over the country have called to offer clothing, food, furniture and the use of vans and trucks.

Money donations for Barneveld victims can be sent to: Iowa County American Red Cross Chapter, 503 W. Fountain St., Dodgeville, WI 53533.

Donations for the Black Earth area victims can be sent to the Dane County American Red Cross Chapter, P.O. Box 603, Madison, W 53701.

The Lutheran Brotherhood has pledged to match the first $17,434 in donations for a tornado disaster fund.

Donations can be made at the following banks: The DeForest - Morrisonville Bank; the Mount Horeb State Bank; the First National Bank of Blanchardville; United Banks in Madison; the Bank of Lodi and its Dane branch; the People's State Bank in Mazomanie; the Bank of Verona; the First National Bank of Stoughton; the Bank of Middleton; the Black Earth State Bank; the First National Bank and Trust in Beaver Dam; the First National Bank of Columbus.

The Big Bend Branch of the Citizens Bank of Mukwonago also is collecting money for survivors.

Access to Barneveld was being limited Saturday to residents.

9 were killed

Emergency government officials suggested that people interested in helping with the cleanup should phone (608) 924-1001 to make arrangements. The division is aksing that volunteers appoint a crew leader and come in groups of 25, preferably by bus. The division is having trouble coordinating individual volunteers.

The nine who died in the tornado were:

Bruce Simon, 35, his wife, Jill, 31, and daughter Cassandra, 8. Surviving was Trevor Simon, 2, who [sic] in University Hospital and Clinics in Madison.

Robert Arneson, 55, a farmer.

Harold Kirk Holland, about 35, a history teacher, athletic director and track coach at Barneveld High School.

Elaine Siewitzke, about 55, an employe at the Farmers Home Administration in Barneveld.

James Siewitzke, Elaine's brother, in his 50s, Mosinee.

Matthew Aschliman, 2, son of Susan and Charles Aschliman.

Ralph Hammersley, 38.

The Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, WI 10 Jun 1984