Tornado rips through Nekoosa campground - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Tornado rips through Nekoosa campground


NEKOOSA (WAOW) -- For the small group of people staying at the Deer Trail Park Campground, Sunday's storms seemed surreal. Authorities report 45 trailers were damaged in the storm. 

"When it really came, it was just a white out," said Norma Donovan, who was trapped in her trailer when the tornado hit. "You couldn't see anything. It was just movement."

Donovan planned to get her camper ready for the start of summer and her retirement. Instead, the Madison native found herself in the middle of a storm, miles away from home and her husband. She said strong winds trapped her inside while softball-sized hail fell outside. Emergency crews helped her get out safely.

"We went over to the town hall and they were wonderful," said Donovan.

When winds ripped through the area Sunday evening, they were strong enough to knock trees over and uproot them from out of the ground.

"It's destroyed," said Lisa Gilbertson, who lives in the campground. "We were in my camper and saw that I now have a skylight that used to be a roof, so it's pretty bad."

Gilbertson's two kids stayed behind at the campground while she and her husband ran errands. She said the storm took them by surprise. They'd lived here for the past five weeks, their haven from the everyday hustle and bustle.

"It doesn't look like heaven here anymore," said Gilbertson. "It kind of looks like the rapture went through or something but we're all just here."

While the storm ripped apart the campsites, it brought the community of campers closer together as they cleaned up.

"I've got a lot of friends coming in to help and I've met a lot of new ones," said Donovan.

Despite the damage done, people said they're grateful for things they can replace, knowing it could have been so much worse.

"It was my lucky day," said Donovan. "I'm alive. Nothing happened. So it just doesn't get any better than that."

The campsite owners said they still plan to be ready for people to stay for Memorial Day weekend.

Online Reporter: Anna Carrera

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