Contact(s): Todd Schaller, Chief Warden DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement, (608) 381-8927 Sarah Hoye, DNR Communications Director, (608) 400-2986
MADISON, WIS. -- Widespread storms last week brought torrential rains, strong winds, downed trees, damaged buildings, at least 16 tornadoes, and left thousands of people without power across a wide area of Wisconsin. As a result, several campgrounds, recreational trails, roads and lakes are closed.
Travelers scheduled to visit storm impacted counties should contact local officials for specific details and information as closures may affect upcoming travel plans.
Due to debris and downed trees, visitors should not enter closed properties to look at the damage. Doing so is extremely dangerous considering trees may still fall. Please stay clear of any Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources forestry staff conducting chainsaw work and dozer operations on roadways and state-owned lands.
Wisconsin Emergency Management continues to monitor and support power restoration across the state. Debris removal operations are also still underway.
As of Thursday afternoon, estimates revealed about 8,000 utility customers were still without power in the state. Wisconsin Public Service reported about 5,000 customers in Oconto and Langlade County; 1,000 WPS customers in the Stevens Point/Plover/Waupaca area; and 1,000 near Rhinelander are waiting for service restoration. Dairyland Electric Cooperative reported about 1,000 customers in the Polk, Burnett, and Barron county areas were still without service.
In addition to the DNR, multiple state agencies including the Wisconsin National Guard, Wisconsin Emergency Management, and the Department of Corrections are assisting with local recovery efforts.
Several counties have declared a State of Emergency in response to the storm damage, including Clark, Langlade, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Polk, Portage, Sawyer, and Vernon counties. In addition to counties, several communities in the affected areas have also issued local disaster declarations. Please check with these local areas before you plan to go there.
If severe weather damage caused a change in your plans, there are plenty of fun alternatives are available throughout Wisconsin. Check out DNR.WI.GOV or Travel Wisconsin.com for ideas.
Meanwhile, the state continues to work with county and Tribal partners to collect damage estimates. Residents are encouraged to call 2-1-1 or 877-947-2211 to report damage done to private property. Property owners can also contact 2-1-1 for information on volunteer assistance that may be available in their area.
For more information on closures in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, visit the July 2019 storm closure update on the forest service website.