Roofs ripped off buildings, trees topple onto homes as severe storms move through Dane County

MADISON, Wis. — Residents across Dane County are cleaning up the damage after a line of severe storms blew through the area Monday afternoon.

In Madison, three buildings at the Truax Park Apartment complex near Madison College had part of their roofs ripped off due to the storm, officials said.

The buildings were built with a concrete roof, and later a wooden gable roof was installed to help with drainage, the city said in a news release. Because of that, the units below did not see significant damage.

“This building is quite sturdy and there was that second roof on the top, so really, what is keeping people out of their house right now is access to utilities,” Madison Fire Department spokesperson Cynthia Schuster said during a press conference Monday evening.

At least 45 residents of the complex were displaced.

Lily Johnson was sitting in a vehicle near the apartments with another woman when the storm moved through. Despite debris flying around them, they were unhurt and the vehicle was untouched.

“We literally seen the roof fly right over us,” she said,” and it just landed right in front of the houses.”

“It started with just a branch, and then after that, that whole big old roof came right off there,” Johnson added.

Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

Those incidents were just a few of what Schuster said was an “onslaught” of calls to 911 as strong storms blew threw the area Monday afternoon.

On the city’s east side, the storm sent a large tree crashing onto the home Gregg McDonald has lived in for nearly a quarter-century.

“All of a sudden, I heard what sounded like a train,” he said. “So I stood up out of my couch to go to my back door to look and see what was going on, and as soon as I stood up, my ceiling and everything just came down all around me.”

McDonald quickly covered his head as he waited for the storm to pass. Had he made it to the kitchen, “I would have been caught in it,” he said.

PHOTOS: Storm darkens Madison’s skies, leaves thousands without power

Elsewhere in the city, a large tree fell across East Johnson Street, closing the road in the 1100 block. The fire department received numerous reports of wires down across Madison.

The strong winds also blew over an empty semi-truck on the city’s east side, according to the Wisconsin State Patrol. No injuries were reported.

RELATED: Storm blows empty semi-truck over on highway on Madison’s east side; delays reported

City crews will work into Tuesday to clear trees and debris from roads, parked vehicles and private property. After that, they’ll turn their focus to broken but still attached limbs.

The damage was not limited to just Madison.

“This is a countywide event,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said Monday evening. “There’s a lot of damage that’s roofs blown off, trees down, wires down.”

In Monona, trees blocked numerous roads, the city said. Crews drove around the city to respond to damage as they found it, with emphasis on tree removal on emergency routes.

On Monday night, the city’s fire department said it responded to more than 40 calls for service in the hours following the storm.

A power outage forced the Monona Library and Community Center — as well as the Senior Center — to close.

RELATED: Thousands of customers in Madison area without power

Monona plans to hold a special brush collection in the future, but specific details were not immediately available.

Madison’s engineering department is asking people who come across fallen trees to call the Dane County Sheriff’s Office’s non-emergency line at 608-255-2345.

The American Red Cross is helping displaced residents and has opened an overnight shelter at Madison College, 1701 Wright Street, for anyone who needs a place to stay due to the weather.

Download the First Warn Weather app to stay up-to-date on current weather conditions and the latest forecast.

Photojournalists Brian Mesmer and Jim Rader contributed to this report.