Tornado Demolishes Bear Paw Resort
Amidst another tornado warning July 10, owners regroup, plan “Twister Sale”
When it rains, it pours.
After a Category 4 tornado ripped nearly a half-mile-wide, 40-mile-long path of devastation which demolished Wisconsin’s 25-acre, 10-building paddlesports and adventure resort Bear Paw Outdoor Adventure on June 7, another tornado warning hit the area on July 10.
“We’re still in the clean-up phase,” says co-owner Jamee Peters, adding that the area was under another tornado watch as she spoke with Paddling Life on July 10. “Our location is severely damaged, but we’re hoping to rebuild it in some way, shape or form at some point. Right now everything is pretty much in the air. We’re still cleaning up the property and getting ready to decide how to best proceed. ”
When the tornado hit on June 7, only five people were on the resort’s premises, two of them customers. Peters made it into the basement of the restaurant, where she waited by herself for it to move on. When she emerged, her resort had been annihilated and changed forever. “It’s unbelievable that there weren’t any deaths,” she says. “The whole place was severely damaged and the resort is a total loss. Kayaks were tossed into trees, across the road and impaled with debris. Damages are estimated at $1 million. Fortunately, minor injuries were the most damage any human being sustained.”
While their operations continue to be closed, Peters and partner Shirlee Roche, who founded the Langlade, Wis., resort eight years ago, are planning to upcoming events to help mitigate the damages and raise funds. The resort is holding a “Twister Sale” from July 16 through August 6, where they plan to iquidate all fleet and salvaged retail goods. “All paddles, helmets, sprayskirts and kayaks all priced to sell depending on damage,” says Peters, adding that a partial list of items will soon be posted on their Web site. “It will all be on first come first serve basis.”
Friends of Peters and Roche’s–whose own parents lost their home to a tornado just two years ago–are also planning to host a music festival called “Bearstock, A Celebration of Life” benefiting Peters and Roche from Aug. 31 – Sept. 3. “It’s important for everyone to understand that this concert is being put on by friends of the Paw to raise the money to help the owners, Jamee and Shirlee, pay the bills brought on by Mother Nature,” says friend David Tronnier. “They’re still undecided as to whether they can rebuild or not.”
Tronnier adds that the concert costs $20 per person, which includes music, food and beverages, with camper admission costing $10 per person, per day. “Obviously, camping will be “roughing it” with the only two luxuries being the Porta-Potties and canopies we’ll put up for shade,” he says. “Everything else (including the trees) has been destroyed by the tornado.”
Peters says that while they are unable to continue their kayak school this year, they are referring guests and customers to Wolf River Guides, another school on the Wolf River. “Some of our fine instructors will be working with them,” she says, encouraging people to visit their website or call (715-882-3002, www.wolfriverguides.com).
“While we are unable to continue operations at this time, we wish to thank all the many friends, customers, and just plain kind folks who helped us start the massive clean-up. We are aching with sadness but also overwhelmed by the love and support of all our wonderful friends and guests. We are regrouping and making plans for the futures.”
The local paddlesports community has started a disaster relief fund to assist with cleanup and rebuilding efforts. Donations may be sent to: TCF Bank, Attn: Dana Winfield, P.O. Box 170708, Milwaukee, WI 53217. Make checks to: TCF Bank / Bear Paw Relief Fund.
To watch a video of the volunteer effort cleaning up shortly after the tornado hit,
View clip here.
Info: 715-882-3502, www.bearpawoutdoors.com