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Storm damages homes, downs trees

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Strong storms moved through Pierce County shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 14, damaging several homes and downing trees to leave a handful of roads blocked.

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Julie Stoltenburg was home with her two-week old baby at W 6303 870th St. in the town of Trimbelle when she heard the storm sirens, got nervous and took her daughter to the basement. She called husband Jeff at work, who began making his way home. The couple's toddler son was not home at the time.

"I heard a lot of crashing," said Julie about after she went to the basement.

What most believe was a tornado took a portion of the roof off the Stoltenburg's home and obliterated a shed about 20 yards from the house. Debris littered their entire yard, and most of the shed appeared to have landed in the front yard of their neighbor's house.

A Pierce County sheriff's deputy told the Stoltenburgs that debris from their shed had been found three miles away.

Julie said she and her young daughter are uninjured, but the family's 12-year-old dog sustained a broken leg and other traumatic injuries and had to be euthanized.

George Cobian was clearing debris from the Stoltenburg's home from his pasture that lies just behind the house. He said they had called to let him know his fence was down; he had seen a path cut through the field by what he also guesses was a tornado.

Julie said the home did not sustain much damage inside, but there was water in the dining room and several big holes in the roof the family would have to cover somehow.

Down the road from the Stoltenburgs on 640th Ave., a big tree landed on resident Richard Klein's home. Several helpers were using chainsaws to clear the tree away from the back and front of the house.

The damage occurred in an area that lies just about at the intersection of the towns of River Falls, Ellsworth and Trimbelle.

"I've seen nothing like this

Jeff and Crystal Nelson have lived at W6055 690th Ave. in rural Beldenville for four years and had a couple of down trees in the past when severe weather approached.

That was until Wednesday afternoon.

When Crystal heard the warnings, she grabbed the couple's two children and headed towards their utility room.

In a matter of moments, their lives changed.

Crystal said she saw the winds picking up and then heard a lot of "booms, cracks and creaks."

When that was over, the two children begged their mother to go looking for "Kirby", the family dog.

Upon finding Kirby, Crystal saw the damage and was left speechless.

"I was in shock," she said, upon seeing insulation everywhere and the front door lying down on their patio. "I've seen nothing like this."

The family was quickly escorted to a neighbor's house to wait out the storm.

Crystal returned and saw the rest of the damage. Among the worst was the garage collapsing, damaging the car.

"It was just crazy all this damage was done," she said.

She did say that all the animals were accounted for, including barn cats, chickens and Kirby.

"The only thing I can't find was the kids' trampoline," she said.

Damage reports flood in

Four hours after strong winds damaged numerous homes and downed trees north of Hammond, a second wave of storms struck Pierce County about 3 p.m, Wednesday, July 14, seriously damaging at least two homes, flattening sheds, trees and power lines in the towns of Trimbelle, Martell and further east.

Warning sirens were sounded in River Falls and neighboring communities about 2:50 p.m. following reports of a wall cloud with rotation about five miles northeast of Prescott, moving east.

River Falls received heavy rain and gusty winds.

Within minutes, dispatchers began receiving damage reports.

Sheriff's deputies fanned out and began relaying reports of damaged buildings, trees and power lines down in towns of Trimbelle and Martell.

A large tree was reported laying across a house at W8456 640th Ave., the Richard W. Klein residence in the town of Trimbelle.

A large pole building was said to be down and blocking the road in the vacinity of CTH BB and 650th Avenue.

Trees were blocking CTH O south of 640th, CTH J at 690th and on 650th Street south of 690th, 650th and 690th Avenue, east of CTH BB, andat CTH CC and 770th Avenue.

On West Grove Street in Ellsworth, a tree fell onto a car and came to rest on a house.

A deputy reported the storm appeared to clear Pierce County about 3:25 p.m.

About the same time Pierce was hit, strong winds tipped two semi tractor-trailer rigs on eastbound I-94 near Baldwin, causing traffic to backup for several miles before authorities could clear the roadway.

Units from United Fire & Rescue were sent to Downing in Dunn County to assist with downed power lines there.

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