Anniversary of tornado that destroyed much of northern village this weekendTen years ago this weekend, a tornado ripped a path from Washburn County into Burnett County in far northern Wisconsin, killing three in Dewey and destroying most of the village of Siren.
By: Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
SIREN — Ten years ago this weekend, a tornado ripped a path from Washburn County into Burnett County in far northern Wisconsin. It killed three people in the town of Dewey and destroyed much of the village of Siren.
Besides the 557 homes and buildings damaged or destroyed, the thing that jumped out the day after the tornado was the bright sunshine. There were no leaves left to offer shade, and there was the sound of chainsaws everywhere.
In an interview the day after the storm, Burnett County Sheriff Tim Curtin said he was shocked when he pulled into town.
Area resident Tim Dahlberg remembers hustling his family to safety.
“I thought I heard a freight train coming, so we went downstairs in our split-level house and found a wall with no windows and we sat down and within about five minutes or so, she was all over. I walked outside and went ‘wow’.”
The F-3 tornado was on the ground for 69 minutes as it plowed a 41-mile long, half mile wide swath. It took two years for the 1,000 residents to rebuild Siren.
Sue Hunter owns the Poor House Restaurant which was destroyed and later rebuilt. She says everything now is new and bright and inviting.
“I feel that we’ve got a very, very beautiful, small little town that’s very inviting for the people to come live and stay.”
Siren police chief Chris Sybers was a fireman on duty that night. Now, he’s proud of what they’ve done.
“It’s rebuilt wonderfully. Just about every business has the log look or the woodsy motif. We’ve all tried to grasp that back, because we had so many big, beautiful trees in our community.”
On Saturday, the village of Siren will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tornado, sharing stories of that night and the long road back.