Chetek businesses thriving nearly 4 months after tornado - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Chetek businesses thriving nearly 4 months after tornado


Chetek (WQOW) - It's been nearly four months since a tornado turned portions of Chetek upside down, leaving some residents without homes, and business owners wondering what would happen to their livelihood. In fact, some company owners told News 18 they're seeing more business than ever before.

"There have been many people who, because we're a huge resort tourist community, that come into the area, and have shared that they are shocked at the devastation," said Wendy Sorum, owner of Whimsical Wares.

"We were extremely nervous," added Julie Stangle, owner of Gilligans. "We really thought maybe we are going to be in trouble as a business for a couple weeks and that's okay because there were so many people that needed help, but it was totally the opposite."

Turns out, it takes more than devastation to keep Chetek down.

"Best summer ever," Stangle exclaimed.

That's how business owners are feeling, just shy of four months after one of the more damaging storms in recent memory.

"I think it brought our community even closer than it is already," Sorum said. "Chetek is a close community, and one that supports each other and all of the local businesses."

A close community that instead of hiding in the rubble, supported one another and the businesses that make Chetek a welcoming place for tourists and residents alike.

"Initially when the tornado first hit, I think people just came out because they wanted to be together and share their stories, and find out where they could help," Stangle said.

"I believe that they needed to do something fun in addition to doing all of the things to clean up their yards and homes and so I believe that helped," Sorum said. "They came out and they patronized the businesses."

Stangle agreed saying, "People heard about the devastation and came up here to lend moral support if not not physical help and support."

Business owners also told News 18 their business this year was not just about making money but helping others with the recovery efforts. 

MORE: Tornado Touchdown: Special Coverage in Barron and Rusk counties

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