Tree crashes through Janesville mobile home during Tuesday severe thunderstorm

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Shelly Birkelo
Tuesday, June 17, 2014

JANESVILLE—Greg Beall still was in shock hours after Tuesday morning's storm toppled a 30-foot spruce tree through the ceiling of his mobile home.

“Realistically we both should be dead,” he said of himself and his 11-year-old son, Devin.

The two were sleeping in the living room of their home at 2306 Hawaii Drive—him on a mattress and Devin on the couch—to escape the heat and be near the cool air of the kitchen air conditioner. His14-year-old daughter, Kiara, was sleeping in her bedroom.

The storm at 5:26 a.m. snapped off the tree, sending it smashing into the living room.

“It was a rude awakening,” Beall said.

“The tree crashed and the ceiling came down right on top of us, smashing the whole trailer,” he said.

After hearing the impact, Beall said it was obvious what had happened.

His first thought was his son's safety.

“I started hollering. He started screaming because he was scared,” Beall said.

Beall ran to his daughter's room.

“She was fine and waking up from what she heard,” he said.

Beall found a ceiling board on his son, who suffered a scrape on his head.

Beall has scratches on his back.

The tree didn't hit them, only flying debris.

Beall thinks a spruce tree on the opposite side of his mobile home helped break the fall of the broken tree.

He said he planed to take his son to the doctor and get his own back checked out, too.

Beall wasn't aware of any other mobile homes damaged nearby.

“There are a few trees down, but that's it,” he said.

Beall has no idea where he and his children will stay. He's going to call his insurance agent to see what happens next.

His mother and brother live next door.

Damage to the Beall home was the worst reported in the Janesville area this morning.

Police, deputies, utility and public works/highway crews were responding to reports of trees, branches and wires down throughout Rock County after a severe thunderstorm rolled through between 5 and 6 a.m.

“We're getting the county highway crews out to check (out these reports) as fast as we can,” said a lead dispatcher at the Rock County Communications Center.

“People need to drive careful and need to be aware they may be there,” she said of debris in roads.

Some roads might be blocked, but no major road blockage, accidents or detours were reported as of 6 a.m., the dispatcher said.

Downtown Janesville experienced a “fairly significant power outage” due to a thunderstorm that rolled through the area earlier Tuesday morning, said Sgt. Joshua Norem of the Janesville Police Department.

The general area affected was Franklin Street, west to High Street, in between Court Street and Centerway and a lot of downtown businesses including the police department that was able to operate with a backup generator, he said.

Power went out around 1 a.m. and was restored by 3:25 a.m. Norem said.

The storm also caused several residential and business alarms to go off, but when police responded they found the alarms were triggered by weather or were electric related, he said.

No street flooding occurred, but some tree branches and garbage cans blew over and into roads. They were cleared right away, he said.

“Everything appears to be back up and functioning normal,” Norem said.

The National Weather Service in Sullivan issued a tornado watch in effect until 9 a.m. Tuesday for all of south central and southeast Wisconsin, including Green and Rock counties.

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