STOUGHTON (WKOW) -- Exactly seven years ago on August 18, 2005, the Stoughton tornado blew through town, leaving behind a 20-mile path of destruction. People in the Stoughton area remember like it was just yesterday.
According to the National Weather Service, the F3 tornado lasted 53 minutes-- beginning two miles north of Oregon and tapering off about two miles north of Busseyville in Jefferson County. It left behind millions of dollars of damage, destroying more than 60 homes. One man died and 21 others were hurt. The weather that afternoon and evening produced a record number of tornadoes-- 27 across the state.
For Wayne Weis of Pleasant Springs, reminders of what happened that day are everywhere.
"It looked like a nuclear bomb had gone off because all the houses were just leveled," says Weis.
Weis lost it all-- an entire home, along with most of the others on his street. The area near the Stoughton Country Club was hit hard, but seven years and a rebuild has healed the damage. Even with mementos blown as far as 80 miles away, decades of memories have been sent back home to the Weis family one envelope at a time.
"We got stuff returned from like Oak Creek, Milwaukee, just the pathway from here to Lake Michigan, basically. We were getting letters, they were finding our names on documents and that type of thing and sending them back," says Weis.
Colin McDermott caught some amazing video of the tornado, which appeared on programs on the Discovery Channel and the Weather Channel. Luckily, for McDermott and his family, it stayed about a mile away from his condo on Jackson Street on the west side of Stoughton.
"It was just adrenaline, the heart was racing and it was like, wow I've never seen anything like this before, I never want to see anything like it again," says McDermott.
Just up the road at the Stoughton Country Club, people weren't as lucky. It looks good now, but the golf course suffered more than $1 million in damage-- half the clubhouse was destroyed, and 160 trees fell.
"After the tornado passed over us, we came outside and it was... there was stuff everywhere and we didn't realize the extent of the devastation until we started going around the neighborhood," says Steve Hlavacek, golf pro at the club.
Thanks to volunteers' help the course was open within just 10 days, and no one was hurt there.
Those who lost their homes say they can't thank the community across the state enough for their generosity.
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