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Tornado Tears Up Town in Wisconsin

September 03, 2002|From Associated Press

LADYSMITH, Wis. — A tornado ripped apart a northwestern Wisconsin town Monday, leveling a Baptist church and a gas station and injuring dozens of people, witnesses and officials said.

The twister hit Ladysmith--a town of 4,000 about 60 miles northeast of Eau Claire--at 4:30 p.m., the National Weather Service said. Television footage showed there was nothing left of several downtown businesses.

"Most of the town is a disaster. There's buildings missing, down, torn apart--everything," said Christine Wright, an employee at a downtown gas station. "They're shutting the town down."

Gov. Scott McCallum declared Ladysmith a disaster area and planned to visit today, spokesman Tim Roby said.

Thirty people were treated at Rusk Memorial Hospital, with 18 released and the others with non-life-threatening injuries, administrator Mike Shaw said.

Sandy Zajec, who owns a radio station in Ladysmith, told KARE-TV in Minneapolis that the Baptist church and an Amoco gas station were leveled and that the top floors of a motel and the fire department roof were ripped off.

"There was like no warning," she said. "It was just there ... right in the center of downtown."

A second tornado hit north of Wausau, said Roy Eckberg, a meteorologist in the weather service's Green Bay office.

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