Farms, homes damaged after EF-1 tornado near Potosi

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GRANT COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) -- The National Weather Service says storms formed near a warm front on Saturday, producing brief tornadoes which caused damage north of Potosi, Wisconsin and Oelwein, Iowa.

Preliminary reports from the NWS show an EF-1 tornado with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and a path length of 6.9 miles.

Officials say thunderstorms formed during the afternoon hours north of the warm front and brought many reports of small hail covering the ground.

Grant County Emergency Management surveyed a preliminary tornado track of 4 miles, just 1 mile north of Potosi. A house, multiple farms , and trees were damaged.

Mandy Bartels and her family were in their house on their farm north of Potosi when the tornado hit. Bartels said it happened in minutes.

"I was trying to say we should get to the basement and before I could get it out, the windows blew out of the house," Bartels remembered. "We looked outside and our farm was gone."

Bartels has lived on the farm with her husband for 20 years, but the farm has been in her husband's family for over a century.

Of the 10 buildings on the property, Bartels said just two were left standing after the storm. Their house also suffered significant damage.

"We're wondering if it's maybe off the foundation and whether it's inhabitable or not," Bartels explained.

Bartels' family also lost a lot of equipment, including all their tractors. They also lost some of their cattle and other animals.

"We had to humanely euthanize one cow so far, one calf, and we lost my daughter's rodeo horse," Bartels said, tearing up.

Despite the damage, Bartels' family was not hurt.

"We're alive. Every room in the house that took a hit, one of us was in, and we walked away," she said.

Bartels also said she is overwhelmed by the community's support. Over 100 people came out to the farm to help her family clean up.

"We are so blessed with our family and I call them all family because they are. They've shown up for us," Bartels said.

For Bartels and her family, the financial cost of rebuilding is daunting, but the hardest part is recreating 130 years of history.

"The history, the memories, the blood, sweat, tears that goes into farming. Every farmer out there knows that this doesn't happen overnight," Bartels explained, adding, "Every generation before us has built the legacy and it's gone."

Grant County Emergency Management is encouraging anyone with property damage to contact their insurance company. Emergency Management director Steve Brown said people should keep detailed records and document damage with photos and videos.