Sunday, December 3

Watch now: Monday storms tear roof off Wright Street apartment building, displace 45 residents

At least 45 residents of an apartment complex on Madison’s North Side were temporarily displaced Monday afternoon after a powerful storm tore the roof off a building and caused power outages and other damage throughout the area.

No injuries had been reported in the storm as of late Monday night, but Madison public safety officials had responded to more than 50 electrical emergency calls from the easterly moving storm that included gusts up to 70 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Power outages were concentrated in Madison, Middleton and Monona, according to the Dane County Department of Emergency Management.

Monday storm damage web only

Jasmine Cress, with her daughter, Taniya, 6, and 1-year-old Trell Brown, a family member whom she is babysitting, waits to get belongings from their apartment on Wright Street that was damaged in a storm that swept through the Madison area Monday. Cress said they will be staying with her mom for the night.

Madison Fire Department spokesperson Cynthia Schuster said firefighters were sent to the Truax Park Apartments in the 1500 block of Wright Street just after 3 p.m., when they found the roof torn off one building and three adjacent buildings with “significant” roof damage.

“We discovered that (the roofless building) had a false roof,” she said. “Underneath was another roof that was still intact.”

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Debris from the roof landed on and caused significant damage to an unoccupied car. Residents of the most heavily damaged building would likely have to find other accommodations for just Monday night, Schuster said.

As many as 17,500 Madison Gas and Electric customers were without power Monday afternoon, according to a company outage map. Just under 8,000 customers were still without electricity as of late Monday evening.

Street lights in various parts of Madison were also knocked out, slowing traffic to a crawl in some areas.

Middleton’s Willy Street Co-op was among the businesses that lost power. Employees had to move food into mobile coolers, but the co-op said it was expected to reopen Tuesday morning. The Monroe Street branch of the Madison Public Library and the Madison Chocolate Co. on Glenway Street also closed Monday due to outages.

Monday storm damage 4

Apartments on Wright Street in Madison were damaged by a storm that came through the area Monday.

Schuster said the fire department received reports about outdoor fires likely sparked by downed power lines. She did not release the locations of the fires.

The city said crews would work through the evening to clear downed trees from streets and vehicles, among other cleanup efforts.

Monday storm damage 2

Emergency personnel talk with residents from an apartment complex on Wright Street that was damaged by a storm that came through the Madison area Monday.

With temperatures expected in the mid-90s Tuesday and heat index values of up to 105, the county in partnership with Madison Area Technical College and the American Red Cross planned to open a cooling shelter for victims of Monday’s storm, the Department of Emergency Management said late Monday evening.

The shelter will be hosted at 1701 Wright Street by Madison College. The county will also be opening the Coliseum as a cooling center during the day Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Madison Metro Transit will provide free rides to the cooling centers.

Monday storm damage 3

Melanie Smith, with Michael Jones, right, reacts to the storm damage at a nearby apartment complex on Wright Street in Madison on Monday. “We came over to check on our neighbors,” said Smith, who has lived in the area for 16 years.

‘Like a blizzard’

Truax Apartment Park resident Lana Isbell said she’s been living in the complex for about a year and a half. The retired paralegal moved to Wisconsin from Texas after her husband died.

“I was in my room and heard a lot of noise,” Isbell said. “I heard pounding on the walls. I looked out the window, and it looked like a blizzard. I went to the other window, and saw all this wood that was in front of the building.”

Isbell said she would be staying at a hotel for the night.

Whitney Mckennie, another Truax resident and small business owner, said she was shopping at Walgreen’s when the storm came through.

“The next thing I knew, the wind was crazy,” she said.

The sky was bright one minute, then black the next, she said. Garbage cans were sent flying, and the power went out at Walgreen’s, she said.

Monday storm damage 1

Part of the roof torn off an apartment building on Wright Street during a powerful storm Monday afternoon landed on this car on Madison’s North Side.

Downed trees

Reports of trees knocked down by the storm were common across the Madison area, including one that fell across East Johnson Street just east of North Ingersoll Street and downed power lines that sent sparks into the area and forced drivers to turn around on the one-way street.

Minutes after the tree came down, a man in a Metro Transit shirt began directing drivers off East Johnson and onto Ingersoll. Madison firefighters and police arrived just before 3:05 p.m., and East Johnson remained closed more than an hour later.

A few miles away, a car Bob Gee was borrowing from a friend had its back window smashed in by a tree limb blown down along Milwaukee Street.

Monday storm damage 5

Apartments on Wright Street in Madison were damaged by a storm that came through the area Monday.

Gee, 40, said he pulled into the parking lot at 2717 Milwaukee just as the skies were at their blackest, went inside and then minutes later heard a “big kaboom.”

“I decided to look out the window … and all I could see was green” from the fallen tree, he said.

The tree also broke out a window in the apartment building and dislodged a downspout.

State Journal reporters Barry Adams, Elizabeth Beyer, Chris Rickert, Alexander Shur and Logan Wroge contributed to this report.

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