Merrill tornado anniversary approaching this weekend - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Merrill tornado anniversary approaching this weekend


On April 10th, 2011, a tornado ripped through homes, neighborhoods, and businesses in Merrill and left mass devastation through the city. 

"I'll never forget. It's the only tornado I've ever responded to and I hope it's the only one that I do," said Captain Mike Drury with the Merrill Fire Department, who acted as the incident commander the night the tornado struck. 

Sirens, radios, and TV stations warned Merrill residents hours before the tornado struck, but no one could stop it.

"All of the trees that were in that area were knocked down or torn away," Newsline 9 Meteorologist Justin Loew said. 

An estimated 65 homes were destroyed by the twister.

No one was killed, but the 140 MPH winds ripped one man from his basement, and left him critically injured right outside his home.

"I sent an ambulance up to that area. There was a gentleman and his house got torn up the foundation, and he actually got sucked up out of the basement and was thrown into the yard," Captain Drury said.

The tornado even exposed dangerous fumes into the air.

"The smell of natural gas was so strong, it burned your nose and your eyes," Captain Drury explained. "The natural gas pipes had been torn off of the huge factories out there."

On that day, the community was united through destruction.

"What I'll never forget is the amount of neighborhoods and community members, not just in Merrill, but around Central Wisconsin that came out to the Merrill community and they grabbed their saws and their chaps and they started moving trees out of yards and out of roads, neighbor helping neighbor in a crisis," said Rep. Sean Duffy, who visited Merrill after the tornado struck. 

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