Wis­con­sin hit by tor­na­does, wide­spread flood­ing

Austin American-Statesman - - SATURDAY BRIEFING - By Di­nesh Ramde

MIL­WAU­KEE — Weary trav­el­ers who were stranded overnight at a Mil­wau­kee air­port be­gan fly­ing out Fri­day af­ter­noon, one day af­ter pow­er­ful storms pounded south­east­ern Wis­con­sin and caused wide­spread flood­ing that grounded all flights.

Both com­mer­cial run­ways at Mitchell In­ter­na­tional Air­port were cov­ered with wa­ter Fri­day morn­ing. Crews re­opened one run­way about 1 p.m. and con­tin­ued to work on the other, air­port spokesman Ryan McA­dams said.

The worst might not be over. South­ern Wis­con­sin was ex­pected to face an­other night of flood­ing and winds Fri­day, with the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice fore­cast­ing as much as 5 inches of rain in some ar­eas. Storms were ex­pected to start clear­ing up tonight.

Al­most 8 inches of rain poured down in just two hours Thurs­day evening, snarling traf­fic in and around Mil­wau­kee and caus­ing wide­spread power out­ages.

A gi­ant sink­hole in down­town Mil­wau­kee swal­lowed a sport util­ity ve­hi­cle. Wit­nesses es­ti­mated the hole was about 20 feet deep and 15 feet wide.

Tow­ing-com­pany owner Mark Paw­lik helped res­cue the driver from the hole.

It “just went wham!” Paw­lik, 46, told the Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sen­tinel. “Ev­ery­thing went down.”

The driver was taken to a hos­pi­tal, where his con­di­tion wasn’t im­me­di­ately avail­able.

Mil­wau­kee po­lice han­dled 500 weather-re­lated calls through­out the night, Chief Ed Flynn said, in­clud­ing one where of­fi­cers evac­u­ated about 100 peo­ple from a flooded Coun­try Inn & Suites ho­tel.

In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent, two peo­ple were struck by light­ning and hos­pi­tal­ized, Mil­wau­kee Fire Chief Mark Rohlf­ing said.

Aurora St. Luke’s Med­i­cal Cen­ter spokes­woman Myrle Croas­dale told the Jour­nal Sen­tinel that Stephanie Boyce, 30, was listed in good con­di­tion Fri­day night but that her sis­ter, Mary Boyce, 25, was in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice re­ported tor­nado touch­downs, but there were no im­me­di­ate re­ports of prop­erty dam­age or in­juries.

State emer­gency-man­age­ment spokes­woman Lori Get­ter es­ti­mated at least half a dozen tor­na­does may have touched down in the state.

Morry Gash

A sink­hole in down­town Mil­wau­kee that was es­ti­mated to be about 20 feet deep and 15 feet wide swal­lowed an SUV. South­ern Wis­con­sin was hit by pow­er­ful storms Fri­day. The SUV driver was res­cued from the hole and hos­pi­tal­ized.

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