NWS confirms EF3 tornado near Boscobel, volunteers help families clean up aftermath

Tornado near Boscobel destroys multiple homes; Grant County's largest tornado since 1985

BOSCOBEL, Wis. (WKBT) – A tornado in Grant County destroyed multiple homes south of Prairie Du Chien on Saturday. The National Weather Service and Grant County Emergency Management confirmed an EF3 tornado with peak winds of 160 miles per hour tore through the region Saturday. This is the strongest tornado there since 1985.

The tornado’s path spanned 10.48 miles and the maximum width was about 11 football fields. Initial damage assessment by fire departments listed six homes destroyed, five with major damage. The storm blew over many power poles and closed roads with debris blocking traffic. However, officials reported no deaths or injuries from the storm.

Friends, neighbors, and volunteers helped one family pick up what is left of their home in rural Boscobel.

“You see this on TV, you never think it’s gonna happen to you,” said Kari Oates, a Boscobel resident who lost her home to tornado damage.  “We didn’t find out until we got here. We lost everything; every tree. The only thing left standing is that garage.”

Kari and Donald Oates’ home suffered immensely from mother nature’s power. Two-by-fours and tree trunks are all that’s left of their home of three decades.

“It was just unbelievable,” Kari Oates said.

Fortunately, a routine errand kept them out of harm’s way.

“We were in Prairie Du Chien shopping,” Donald Oates said.

Kari and Donald’s cat and dog sat inside the home during the storm.

“They survived,” Kari Oates said. “They are not hurt.”

Their friends, neighbors, and volunteers they’ve never met, are helping them pick up the pieces.

“It’s been really neat to see the huge outpouring of support we’ve had from volunteers and from neighbors helping neighbors,” said Steve Braun, the director of Grant County Emergency Management. “When the sun came up today, people were everywhere just showing up to volunteer.”

Communities like Boscobel perform a lot bigger than the number on their population sign. It’s why people like Kari and Donald choose this place as their home.

“It’s amazing what a small community does and holds together,” Donald Oates said.

Kari and Donald said the main thing is nobody got hurt and they can replace their property.

“We feel extremely blessed,” Kari Oates said.

Grant County emergency leaders ask anyone who would like to volunteer to call their volunteer line before traveling down.