Barneveld, WI Tornado, Jun 1984 - Losses


Special to The Journal, AP, UPI

Barneveld, Wis. - Barneveld was like a ghost town at dawn Saturday.

The day before, one of Wisconsin's worst tornadoes leveled most of this town, killing nine persons and hospitalizing 57 others.

But Friday night and Saturday morning, the residents were gone - ordered out of town for the night. In their place were National Guardsmen, sheriff's deputi9es and officials assessing the damage.

"It's quiet. Very dark," said Iowa County Deputy Robert Hille, who was stationed at an Emergency Government command post.

For the most part, there were no lights, no operating telephones, and no water. Water was being brought in by tanker truck and crews were working Saturday to restore power and phone service.

It was not until 9 a.m. that buses and cars carrying survivors returned to this Iowa County village of 528 to sift debris for their belongings.

Gov. Earl Friday declared a state of emergency in this community and was preparing a request for a presidential disaster declaration that would make Barneveld and neighboring Black Earth eligible for federal assistance.

In Barneveld, 93 homes were destroyed, 33 received major damage and 31 sustained minor damage. Out of 18 public or business buildings, 17 were destroyed.

In Black Earth, which is 12 miles northeast of Barneveld in Dane County, 9 homes were destroyed and 18 more were damaged, half of them extensively, according to Merrill Hough, Dane County director of emergency planning.

The Red Cross reported that 24 more homes between Black Earth and Barneveld were damaged or destroyed.

Larry Sperling of the State Division of Emergency Government said Wisconsin would request $20 million in federal funds for Iowa and Dane Counties.

The request does not include instances of lesser damage in Columbia and Dodge counties.

Sperling said there was no estimate of damage and that it might take a week for a figure to be calculated.

Of the 57 people hospitalized, five were listed in critical condition at hospitals in Madison and Dodgeville. Hospitals treated a total of 82 persons.

Those who died, according to Iowa County Coroner Timothy Correll, were:

BRUCE SIMON, 35, his wife, JILL, 31, and daughter CASSANDRA, 8. Another Simon child, Trevor, 2, was hospitalized at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison. The coroner said the mother and father were found some 300 yards from their home, and children even farther.

ROBERT ARNESON, 55, a farmer who lived on the edge of town.

HAROLD KIRK HOLLAND, about 35, a history teacher, athletic director and track coach at Barneveld High School.

ELAINE SLEWITZKE, about 55, an employe at the Farmers Home Administration in Barneveld.

JAMES SLEWITZKE, Elaine's brother, in his 50s, of Mosinee.

MATTHEW ASCHLIMAN, 2, son of Susan and Charles Aschliman. His mothre said he was killed when a door flew off its hinges and struck the two of them as they attempted to get to the basement.

RALPH HAMMERSLY, 38, who moved recently to Barneveld.

The coroner, who is a Mineral point doctor, said: "I've never seen such a thing. I hope never to see it again. The town was totally destroyed." He said most of the victims died of what he called brunt trauma, meaning crushing skull fractures, crushing chest injuries and other injuries of that type.

"All had mortal injuries at the scene. They were probably dead at the scene."

The Red Cross set up an information clearinghouse in Madison that relatives or friends of people that might have been affected by the storm can contact. The number is (608) 255-0021. About 500 people have called to inquire about friends.

The Red Cross also is asking for cash donations to help house and clothe those left homeless by the tornado. Marty Gifford, of the Dane County Red Cross chapter, said cash was the most urgent need because many victims were without even the daily necessities of life. They will have to be purchased, he said.

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

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

The Big Bend branch of the Citizens Bank of Mukwonago also was collecting money for survivors.

Victims in both Iowa and Dane counties were staying with relatives or friends for the time being, emergency government officials said. "Everybody's related to everybody else," said Donald Tredinnick, chairman of the Iowa County Red Cross Chapter.

The Red Cross was prepared to house people at Dodgeville High School, but by nightfall Friday, all victims had found temporary accomodations with friends.

The curious continue to pose a problem in Barneveld, the Iowa County Sheriff's Department said Saturday. As a result, only Barneveld residents were being allowed into the village.

The Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, WI 9 Jun 1984