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Wisconsin unlikely to qualify for federal aid for tornado damage


UNDATED (WSAU) Sunday’s tornado in La Crosse caused millions-in-damage – but it was not bad enough to qualify for federal disaster aid. That’s what county Emergency Management Coordinator Keith Butler said yesterday, after the National Weather Service confirmed a twister which it said caused “lower end E-F-Two damage.”

It was the worst of several tornadoes that hit Wisconsin on Sunday, and Governor Scott Walker promised state disaster relief when he toured part of the wreckage yesterday. Butler said the storm damaged 200 homes and a handful of businesses. The storm packed winds of 120 miles-an-hour, and it was on the ground for two-point-three miles on La Crosse’s south side. Walker said he was grateful there were no major injuries or deaths. It was the first tornado to hit La Crosse in 50 years. And some residents said it debunked the local legend that a tornado would never touch down there, because the city is on a convergence of three rivers.

Storm victims poured out their stories to the governor, but not everybody was happy to see him. Just before a news conference, a long-haired man swore in Walker’s face, made an obscene gesture, and ran off. Walker seemed unfazed. He’s been the target of union protestors for months over his plan to limit collective bargaining by public workers.

Also yesterday, the Weather Service confirmed four other tornadoes besides the ones in La Crosse and nearby Sparta. A single twister hit the Tomah and Mather areas – the same tornado landed near Nekoosa and Plover – and two tornadoes touched down near Kingston and Markesan in Green Lake County. That makes a total of six from Sunday’s storms, with more possible.