La Crosse neighbors pick up after storm

Storms knocked down trees, power lines in La Crosse

For the second day in a row, severe weather caused damage in the La Crosse area.

Storms rolled through Wednesday at about 5:30 a.m., knocking trees and power lines down.  Division Chief Jeff Murphy with the La Crosse Fire Department tells News 8 there were also several minor fires because of downed power lines.

Xcel Energy crews restored power to about 5,000 customers in La Crosse and Onalaska Wednesday morning. Crews continue working to restore service as quickly and safely as possible to about 600 customers.

Xcel Energy said all customers impacted by these storms should have power restored later this afternoon.

One of the first damage reports called into News 8 came from Tom Hartung, a resident who lives on the 2100 block of East Avenue in La Crosse.  He has damage to a tree in his front yard, which appears to be from a lightning strike.  A line of bark was stripped off, and there’s a crack down the middle of the trunk.

“It looks like a bomb went off in our front yard,” Hartung said.  “It fried our TVs, maybe our computers.  We got a branch buried in the ground about half a foot.  That’s the force from that one lightning strike.”

To report an electric emergency, call 1-800-895-1999. To report an outage, view an outage map or get additional information, visit Xcel Energy’s website.

La Crosse neighbors pick up after storm

Residents near Highway 16 and County Road B were among those who lost power. A large walnut tree fell on a power line pole early this Wednesday. Winds caused multiple trees to come down overnight in that area.

Homeowner Jan Goetzinger lost nearly half the trees in her yard. Even looking out over the damage done to her yard though, you couldn’t break her positive attitude.

“I woke up out of a sound sleep at about 5:30 with the wind just howling,” Goetzinger said.

In her nearly 44 years living in this home Goetzinger and her husband have never woken up to a yard like this.

“Oh my gosh,” she laughed. “Just unbelief because we’ve always considered ourselves very fortunate that we live here and not in tornado alley or where they have hurricanes or earthquakes.”

She estimates about 12 trees in her yard are lost. Some have stood in this yard as long as she has.

“The willows, we lost two willows that were uprooted, they each started from a single branch from my husband’s mom’s tree so 40 some years ago. We had balsams that we had transplanted from up north and they’re gone,” she said.

Even though the cleanup process could take weeks, a few broken trees won’t break her spirit.

“I’m optimistic because nobody was injured, the house was not touched. There is always a bright side it could be worse,” Geotzinger said.

Her block lost power around 5:30 a.m., which is about the same time the La Crosse Fire Department got its wake-up call.

“We had power outages on the north side including our northside fire station and shortly after we received calls to the County B area. We had every crew in the city responding,” Murphy said.

Some downed power lines even caused a few fires.

“We were told we had a house fire that was related to one of the down calls – we had a couple calls similar to that, luckily the fires were small and didn’t spread at that time,” Murphy said.

Fortunately, there was no fire in Jan’s yard, but with all the tress that need to be cleaned up there could be one soon.

“The wood pile will grow,” she said.