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"We have watched them rebuild their lives:" Chetek residents look back one year after deadly tornado

BARRON COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- One year ago, a tornado took homes, cars, and one life in northern Wisconsin.

The EF3 tornado is the longest running in Wisconsin's history, traveling a path of 83 miles.

Those directly affected by the Barron County tornado and the many volunteers who helped gathered in Chetek to remember, and to be together at the exact moment the E-F three tornado tore through the area one year ago.

"In remembrance of all of our victims, Eric Gavin, Donald Hajeck and all of our injured, I would like everyone to pause for a moment of silence."

People came to the event with hope, trees were given away to inspire new growth, and a meal was shared with smiles and laughs.

This time last year, the community organizations were feeding people that no longer had a fridge and clothing people with cuts on their feet from glass and debris.

"One year ago people were saying we don’t know what to do next and now a year later we have watched them rebuild their lives," said Ashley Rayment with Red Cedar Church.

One man died and dozens of others were hurt, including Nick Howland. He broke his back, hip, and skull in multiple places when a tree fell on him. Now, one year later he’s getting back on his feet

"I don’t know how I got across there but I remember going over there and shutting off the tank. On the way back, I got hindered when a tree fell on me the wind was still blowing 60 to 65 mile an hour I could see the tornado still heading east," said Mick Howland who was injured in the tornado.

Around 80 homes were destroyed or had major damage from the storm and those families have spent the past year rebuilding.


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