Neighboring homes untouched
By Scott Bellile
High-speed winds tore down a barn north of New London on May 17.
The barn collapsed around 10 p.m. at N5323 County Road D, Maple Creek, the property of Lorraine Handschke.
While cleaning up his mother’s property with family members Friday, May 19, Richard Handschke said the barn and two other sheds on the property were total losses. The winds also pulled wires off the barn and the house and knocked out electricity.
The Outagamie County Emergency Management told his family the phenomenon was not a tornado but rather a “microburst with a strong down force wind,” Richard Handschke said.
According to Accuweather, a microburst is a column of sinking air that can be just as destructive as a tornado – producing winds exceeding 100 miles per hour – but the difference is it does not rotate in the manner that a tornado does.
Richard Handschke said his mother’s neighbors reported hearing the sound of a train while the wind pummeled the barn. Because the rest of the neighborhood remained undamaged, the neighbors did not notice the Handschke barn was leveled until the next day, he said.
“It’s so ironic. Nobody around us had any damage whatsoever. Just this one farmstead,” Richard Handschke said.
The barn was not used for farming in 20 years, but he said it was in good shape. Its destruction surprised the family.
“It just, like, took my breath away,” Richard Handschke’s sister Barb Bressler said. “It just was shocking. It’s our heritage because it’s been in our family since the 1800s.
“We are all sad that we lost this piece of our heritage,” Bressler said. “But we are very lucky that nobody was hurt and that the house is still in good shape.”
Bressler said her nephew’s boat, ATV and hunting equipment stored in the upper barn sustained little damage despite the structure’s destruction.
The Handschke property, formerly a dairy farm, is no stranger to storm damage. During a 1958 storm, the farmhouse burned down when the eavestrough fell into the electrical wires, igniting an attic fire. A less severe storm knocked down at least three trees and damaged the roof of the house in the early 1990s.
Some damage throughout area
A little ways down the road in the town of Lebanon, at the intersection of Spurr Road and the U.S. Highway 45 business route, the storm blew a billboard over.
In city of New London, the New London Police Department received the following reports according to its incident list:
• A tree branch on a power line at 328 Evergreen St.
• A tree partially blocking the roadway at 508 E. Quincy St.
• A downed tree near the intersection of Dexter Street and Beckert Road.
• A tree fell onto the roof of the New London Historical Society’s Simmons building at Memorial Park. The building appeared to not be damaged.
• A downed tree near the intersection of East Cook Street and South Algoma Street.
• A downed tree at E9055 County Trunk X.
Hortonville Police Sgt. Brian Bahr said village police did not receive any reports of damage.