Gov. Tony Evers signed Executive Order No. 47 on Wednesday declaring a state of emergency for Chippewa, Clark and Dunn counties, after strong storms hit the area Tuesday night, producing a tornado that injured two people and damaged over a dozen homes and other structures.

The storm also downed trees and power lines, leaving several thousand utility customers without power.

“Last night’s tornado had a devastating impact on this area, leaving many homes badly damaged and a long road ahead to recovery for these communities,” Evers said.

“My executive order allows state agencies and the Wisconsin National Guard to provide assistance to the communities affected by these storms as they work to rebuild.”

Evers’ declaration follows a visit to Chippewa County on Wednesday, where he surveyed storm damage in the town of Wheaton.

A preliminary assessment by the National Weather Service office in the Twin Cities has confirmed the tornado was as an EF-3, with estimated peak wind speed of 150 mph. It began on the eastern edge of Dunn County and traveled into the southwest corner of Chippewa County. The tornado traveled 5.5 miles with a width of one-third mile, according to the weather service’s assessment.

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“I am grateful for the efforts of everyone involved in responding to this disaster,” Evers said. “It is in times of crisis that I am always glad to be reminded of how willing the people of Wisconsin are to step up to the plate and help their neighbors.”

Evers’ executive order directs state agencies to help those affected by the storms.

It also allows the Wisconsin National Guard to be called to active duty to provide assistance, as the adjutant general deems it necessary, to support local authorities with their recovery efforts.

According TornadoHistoryProject.com which has tornado data from 1950-2017, the last EF-3 or above tornado in Chippewa County occurred in 1977 near Bloomer.

A total of five tornadoes in Chippewa County and two in Dunn County of EF-3 or above have occurred in the last 70 years.

The National Weather Service also confirmed a tornado touchdown about three miles south of Greenwood in Clark County. Preliminary findings confirmed a low end EF-1 tornado with estimated peak winds of 88 mph with a path of 60 yards wide and 4.7 miles in length.

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