NWS: Winds Reached up to 130 MPH During Barron County Tornado

May 17, 2017 07:28 PM

The National Weather Service said the preliminary tornado damage rating in Barron County, Wisconsin, is a strong EF-2, which means winds reached 120 to 130 mph Tuesday when they ripped through Chetek. However, the NWS also said it might be slightly stronger, which has yet to be determined.

RELATED: Barron County Tornado Survivor: 'It Was Just Sadness and Destruction'

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker visited the Chetek area Wednesday, where a mobile home park was torn apart and a turkey farm was also hit hard. 

Thirty-eight of the 55 mobile homes in the park were "completely destroyed," according to Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald. Eight homes sustained minor damage.

Walker has declared a state of emergency for Barron, Jackson and Rusk counties.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the devastating tornadoes that hit last night," Walker said in a statement. "I have instructed state agencies and the Wisconsin National Guard to help those affected by the storms as they recover and rebuild. I thank the Wisconsin National Guard, Wisconsin Emergency Management, and all state agencies for their coordinated response to this emergency."

RAW VIDEO: Chopper Footage of Wisconsin Tornado Damage 

One person was killed and dozens are injured following Tuesday's tornado. Fitzgerald said one injured victim was upgraded to "serious condition."

Walker called the damage "remarkable" during his visit. 

"Here you see the grace and mercy of God that more people aren't injured," Walker said. 

"It could've been much worse," he added. 

RELATED: Dozens Seek Shelter after Deadly Barron County Tornado

At the peak of the response effort, 200 first responders were on the scene Tuesday night. 

"The response has been tremendous," Fitzgerald said. 

The Red Cross is helping those displaced find emergency shelter. A volunteer station has been established at St. Peter's Catholic Church for those who are interested in volunteering. Volunteers must be 18 or older. Those who are reporting to volunteer must wear closed, durable shoes and long pants. Insect repellent is also recommended.

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Theresa Malloy

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