Severe storms that ripped through the Midwest June 7 destroyed much of the Bear Paw Outdoor Adventure Resort in Northeast Wisconsin, leveling buildings and throwing kayaks and merchandise across the highway and into the trees. Co-owner Jamee Peters watched from the basement of one of 10 buildings on the 25-acre property near White Lake, Wisconsin, as a tornado demolished the resort she has run with partner Shirlee Roche for the last eight seasons.
"It sounded like a jet airplane landing on the roof, then I could hear the building being torn off," said Peters, who estimates the storm's damage at more than $1 million.
Hundreds of friends and paddlers drove as far as six hours from around the state to help clear debris and downed trees over the weekend, says Kevin Hickson, who learned to paddle at Bear Paw 10 years ago and now volunteers with the nonprofit Canoe/Kayak Corporation in Wausau, Wisc.
"So many people came to help, it's a terrible way to find out how many friends you have," Peters said.
2 Relief funds have been established:
Checks made payable to TCF Bank with a note designating monies for Bear Paw relief can be sent to-
TCF Bank, attn: Dana Winfield, P.O. Box 170708, Milwaukee, WI 53217.
Milwaukee outdoor outfitter Laacke and Joy's (414-271-7885, www.laackeandjoys.com) is also accepting donations at-
1433 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI, 53202.
Many Wisconsin paddlers get their start on the Class II-III Wolf River through Bear Paw, Hickson said, which is also known as a hangout for local boaters throughout the summer and fall. Peters said she and Roche plan to continue clean up efforts and hope to open part of the resort's campground and kayak school by the end of the summer.
Peters said she has seen an outpouring of personal donations and an event at the Wausau whitewater park raised about $1,000 for Bear Paw.
Two other relief funds have been established; checks made payable to TCF Bank with a note designating monies for Bear Paw relief can be sent to TCF Bank, attn: Dana Winfield, P.O. Box 170708, Milwaukee, WI 53217. Milwaukee outdoor outfitter Laacke and Joy's (414-271-7885, www.laackeandjoys.com) is also accepting donations at 1433 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI, 53202.