Gov. Walker joins Chetek community in rebuilding after tornado

- A day after the storm hit Wisconsin, the damage left behind remains overwhelming.

The Barron County Sheriff said of the 55 mobile homes in the park in Chetek, 38 were destroyed and another 8 had serious damage, leaving the people who lived in them to salvage what they could.

“Our stuff is through that gap over there,” said resident Marissa Rhoades. “I found one of our laundry baskets.”

Looking over the sea of debris that used to be her home, Rhodes couldn’t help but feel her heart sink.

“It’s still really surreal,” she said. It hasn't really set in, still kind of in shock. It’s like a bad dream, waiting to wake up.”

Rhoades and her husband left just before the tornado touched down in their mobile home park. When they came back an hour and a half later, everything was gone.

“Holy crap. I mean this is insane,” said Rhoades. “I've seen movies that aren't even this tragic. Yeah, it’s crazy.”

Everywhere you look, lives are uprooted like the trees that surround Prairie Lake Estates.

Governor Scott Walker toured the devastation, stopping to talk with the daughter of the only person who died in the storm, motorcycle enthusiast Eric Gavin.

“Moments like this, you see the sheer force of god, but you also see the grace and mercy of god that more people weren't seriously injured,” Walker said.

But, even in the middle of all this destruction, there were signs of hope.

Rescuers pulled a pet rabbit from what's left of its owner's home unharmed, a full 24 hours after the storm.

“I feel so much better knowing he's alive,” said Deeann Rutledge. “I've had him since he was a baby…flipped that couch out of there and he was underneath it, soaking wet. Poor little guy.”

Marissa Rhoades found one of her cats alive, too, but she hopes her other missing pet isn't the only one with nine lives.

“It’s life,” she said. You gotta deal with what it throws at you.”

Most of the residents are staying with family or friends, and those whose homes are still intact probably won't be able to return for at least a week. Others say after experiencing all this, they will never come back.

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