Part 2: Siren, WI 10 Years After The Storm

By KBJR News 1

June 17, 2011 Updated Jun 17, 2011 at 4:36 PM CDT

Posted by Melissa Burlaga

Siren, WI (Northland's NewsCenter) Ten years ago this weekend, the town of Siren, Wisconsin and several neighboring communities were hit hard by a large tornado.

A decade later, people there are preparing a memorial commemoration Saturday.

Dave Anderson brings us the personal stories of some of those who began rebuilding their towns within hours of the storm.

Just before sunset on Monday, June 18th, 2001, an F3 tornado touched down in Wood River, Daniels, Lafollette, Dewey, Bashaw and Siren, Wisconsin.

More than two hundred homes, businesses and farms were ruined and three people were killed.

Relief efforts began within 12 hours of the disaster.

"Tuesday morning, I was on the road at daylight with my truck and a trailer load of shelter supplies and I drove into town from the north end and saw the devastation."

Tony Guerra of the Northland Chapter of the American Red Cross wasn't the only person rushing to Siren to help.

"It was amazing the way people from northern Wisconsin and Minnesota and across the country came to help."

Hundreds of residents and hundreds of volunteers, jammed into a small town, need food and that problem was solved by people like Famous Dave Anderson, the barbecue king.

Anderson asked the Red Cross what they needed.

"And I said lunch for 600 and everyday Famous Dave's came through as well as many other organizations."

Affected citizens and outside volunteers banded together to clean up debris around homes and patch up businesses blown down by the twister.

The demolished Pour House Bar benefited from that camaraderie.

"There'd be anywhere from twenty to forty people at any given time here helping and pitching in. It's amazing what you can see in people when times are tough like that. Everyone volunteered and did a lot of work."

Just down the block, the owners of the Dairy Queen received the same assistance and were humbled by the help.

"It was awesome. You never had such a sense that great of togetherness in the community. It's just amazing."

To Tony Guerra of the Red Cross, the community spirit may not have been quite so amazing.

Guerra has been helping people for years, either as a Coast Guardsman or with the Red Cross.

He says our region never fails to pitch in during a disaster.

"I see that a lot in the Northland. It's that Northland thing. People get together and help each other."

Law enforcement officers at the tornado scene in 2001 tell us it took only a week to get the Siren area back into a semblance of order.