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

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 from the storm as of Tuesday morning, but Madison public safety officials had responded to more than 50 electrical emergency calls from the storm that moved east across the area with gusts up to 70 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Others weren’t so lucky, as a child and two adults were missing after they were swept away in a drainage ditch in Milwaukee.

Power outages were concentrated in Madison, Middleton and Monona, according to the Dane County Department of Emergency Management.







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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.

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

Debris from the roof landed on and caused significant damage to an unoccupied car.

All residents of the 12 units at 1501 and 1503 Wright Street were displaced. Several found other places to stay, and the Red Cross was assisting the others at a temporary shelter at 1701 Wright Street opened in partnership with Madison Area Technical College and Dane County.

The city of Madison said the building was constructed with a concrete roof, and a wooden gable roof was installed to help with drainage a few years ago. The building was inspected by the city and an electrician will return Tuesday morning with a crew to assess and isolate electrical concerns. The building may be occupied when any issues are resolved.

As many as 21,500 Madison Gas and Electric customers were without power Monday, and 4,700 still were without power as of about 11 a.m., MGE spokesman Steve Schultz said in a statement.

Crews from other utility companies were helping MGE’s restoration efforts starting at daybreak, Schultz said.

However, due to the large number of separate incidents, MGE temporarily suspended its estimated time of restoration feature on its outage map.

“We expect to restore service to many customers Tuesday,” Schultz said. “However, we do expect to have some customers still without service into tonight due to the high number of outage incidents.”

“Our focus throughout the overnight hours has been cutting and clearing downed lines,” Schultz said. “We remind everyone to stay clear of damaged areas and never approach a downed power line or anything that comes in contact with it.”

Downed lines can be reported by calling MGE at 608-252-7111.







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




Street lights in various parts of Madison also were 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.

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 overnight into Tuesday to clear downed trees from streets and vehicles, among other cleanup efforts. More details are available at the city website.







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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.




The shelter at 1701 Wright Street also will be for those escaping a short heat wave forecast to start Tuesday, with temperatures expected in the mid-90s and heat index values of up to 105.

Dane County also will 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.







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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.







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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.







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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, Logan Wroge and Jeff Richgels contributed to this report.