Severe Storms Batter Superior with Downed Trees, Damaged Homes

Two homeowners awoke to find a giant tree toppled onto their rental property.

SUPERIOR, Wis.- Many homeowners in Superior awoke Saturday morning to see their lawns and property battered with branches and trees due to Friday night’s storms.

“The storms we’ve had earlier this year haven’t been as severe,” said Battalion Chief Bob Zimmerman of the Superior Fire Department. “When you start to rank it with regard to severe storms, we saw the damage last night that you would expect from a storm of that magnitude.”

Perhaps a prime example of that damage — the 1100 Block of Hammond Avenue.

“The wind roared by and we heard a big crash and then we heard sirens coming,” said John Graves, a resident on that block.

Surveillance video from a neighbor in the alley behind that portion of Hammond shows 50-70 mph wind gusts ripping a large tree out of the ground, sending it toppling onto the house on the same property.

“It’s pretty…catastrophic,” said Holly Larson, who owns the property with her husband.

The Larsons rent the house out to tenants, none of whom were in the house at the time, they said. “Pretty, kinda scared because one of the tenants has his cat in here so I’m a little worried about, trying to, been trying to get a hold of him to get his cat out,” Holly said.

In a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment, the tree fell onto power and telephone lines, causing a flash of sparks.

It all happened quick, neighbors say, just like the storm as a whole. “Only about 15 minutes and then it was gone. And then the sky got lighter and kinda turned an orange color so it was a fast moving front that came through,” said Graves.

But that sudden surge of nasty weather prompted 16 calls to the Superior Fire Department through the night for downed trees and branches.

“The most significant damage occurred almost immediately and so once those calls started coming in our crews were busy pretty much from the 8’o’clock hour right up in through 1 a.m. this morning,” Zimmerman said.

Despite the number of trees that fell on power lines, there were no fires reported from sparks, according to Zimmerman.

On the night of the storm Saturday, the Larsons were helping their neighbors clean up pieces of wood from their house and lawn — not realizing it all came from their downed tree.

“A friend of ours, the house on the end he called and said there was some sticks through his window so we were trying to help him out last night,” Holly said. “‘Oh, we can help you, everything’s going to be ok.’ Not realizing the whole tree fell on our house.”

Now the couple, like much of Superior, spent Sunday picking up the pieces. Officials advise that anyone doing so, uses caution.

“We would encourage homeowners to, if they’re not comfortable, to absolutely call a professional in order to have these trees removed so they can be safe and their property and their property can be safe as well,” Battalion Chief Zimmerman said.

But, the Larsons said they are thankful their community was out either as neighbors or as local businesses responding to calls to clean up.

“It’s nice when you can call someone local and have them come and care about it,” said Holly.

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