CHETEK, Wis. (KMSP) - Tuesday's tornado started as an attraction on the Wisconsin prairie, with dozens of people stopping to take pictures and video as storms gathered near Chetek --but reality soon touched down.
17 people were injured and one was found dead after the funnel destroyed much of the Prairie Lake Home Estates, a mobile home park between Chetek and Cameron, Wis., upending the lives of many who lived there.
"I didn't know it was a tornado," Charles Vreeland, a resident of the park, said. "I thought it was a big gust of wind, next thing I know our roof is coming apart."
Vreeland's brother was at work a few miles away, checking his phone in horror.
"People are looking on their phones, there's a tornado touchdown right where I live," he said. "I'm sitting here like, 'oh my God, is my family ok?'"
The men's family was safe, but their home--not so much. The entire area was completely devastated, with trees stripped of bark and pieces of homes strewn about.
Like many who live in the area, the Vreelands face an uncertain future, without insurance or money to completely replace what they've lost. But, they figure, things could always be worse.
Ronald Bloomberg, another resident of the park, returned to discover his home was completely gone, with his neighbor, 45-year-old Eric Gavin, dead in a tree.
"We could have been right there with our next door neighbor Eric," he said. "You know, he was a great guy. He was a great man."