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Stoughton Tornado, August 18, 2005

On August 18, 2005 an F3 tornado with winds up to two hundred miles an hour carved a ten-mile long, half-wide path of destruction across rural subdivisions and farms just north of Stoughton, Wisconsin. This site is an online scrapbook covering the tornado, the damage, the cleanup and the recovery.

"As family and friends on Tuesday mourned the passing of Harold Orlofske, 54, of Pleasant Springs - the lone person killed - an oft-repeated comment heard throughout the week was people were surprised there weren't more fatalities." - Stoughton Courier Hub, August 25, 2005

In the week that followed thousands of volunteers, dozens of businesses, fifty-six area fire departments, paramedic, street and utility crews from around the state, Stoughton police, Dane County Sheriff's deputies, State Police, DNR crews from as far as Peshtigo, local churches, church groups from all over the country, Red Cross teams from Minnesota, the Salvation Army and anyone else who could help did help to save lives, provide necessities, clean up and restore faith in the Stoughton area.

Official Tornado Recovery Information and Contact

Web site: Tornado Long-Term Recovery Board

Tornado Recovery Resource Coordinator: Cindy Enyart (608-205-9898) resourcecoordinator@tds.net

Dane County "fast track" permit information.

Reflection One Year After

Friday, August 18, 2006 - A community commemoration picnic and Christian music concert will be held starting at 6pm at Good Shepherd by the Lake Lutheran Church. Don Wharton and his daughter Emily will perform. Adult tickets at $5 and child tickets are $3 ($15/family maximum). (Organized through Good Shepherd by the Lake Lutheran Church; contact @ 608-873-5924.)

Sunday, August 20, 2006 - A community commemoration open house will be held from 1-4pm in the Stoughton High School Auditorium. Ecumenical service and music: 1:00-1:45; survivors and workers relate experiences: 1:45-2:15. Children's activities, "lost and found" and refreshments will be available. There is no charge for this event. (Organized through the Tornado Long-Term Recovery Board; contact @ 608-205-9898.)


  • Apr 8 - Spring tornado clean-up.
  • Mar 16 - Hub announces state Sen. Miller, Rep. Hebl and local leaders have landed a $6 million "Wisconsin Disaster Relief Fund" (75% state grant, 25% local funds).
  • Feb 7 - Tornado Benefit (and auction) held at the new Broux House in Stoughton raised more than $12,000 dollars.
  • Jan 7 - U.S. Small Business Administration announces (~3%) loans up to $200,000 for home repairs, $40,000 to replace personal property and $1.5 million for businesses.
  • Jan 1 - The Weather Channel begins airing a Stoughton "Storm Stories".
  • Dec 21 - Dane Co. Exec. Falk authorizes $60,000 of block grant funds to help cover town tornado costs.
  • Dec 20 - FEMA kills Stoughton's federal tornado aid appeal. More specifically, acting FEMA chief R. David Paulison writes that federal assistance was "not necessary or appropriate."
  • Dec 1 - FEMA grants federal aid to Kentucky after a similar F3+ tornado (150 buildings destroyed, 60 with major damage, no fatalities) cuts through Hopkins Co. on Nov. 15.
  • Nov 19 - Farm Service Agency (part of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) makes disaster loans available to affected farmers in the Stoughton area.
  • Nov 13 - The VFW and American Legion "Veterans for the Community" Benefit raises about $7,000.
  • Nov 10 - Wisconsin Assocation of Nurse Anesthetics donates more than $1,600.
  • Nov 5 - ClearChannel (WIBA 1310, ESPN 1070, Z-104, etc.) and the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce launch "Shop For Stoughton" to benefit the Stoughton Area Tornado Relief Fund. Marty Kay ("At Your Service", WIBA on Saturday mornings) kicks off the week with an hour-long show covering the Fund and relief efforts.
  • Nov 3 - First disbursments from Stoughton Area Tornado Relief Fund were authorized.
  • Nov 2 - A Chicago-based FEMA team drops by the area to consider appeal.
  • Oct 6 - Posted a great letter about personal responsibility and FEMA from Colby Smith.
  • Oct 3 - Posted a harrowing first-person account of the tornado as it passed two blocks north of a trained spotter's house
  • Sep 24 - Tornado Relief Fund Historic Home Tour raises $2,700.
  • Sep 23 - FEMA denies request for federal disaster aid. Local right-wingers write in to complain about my take: "Bush to Stoughton: Drop Dead"
  • Sep 18 - Tornado Relief Fund Concert featuring Madison County raises $55,000.
  • Aug 30 - www.stoughtontornado.org goes live.
  • Aug 28 - Tornado First Responders Concert by the Stoughton Opera Company raises $1,500.
  • Aug 23 - A FEMA team drops by the area to consider federal disaster aid.
  • Aug 20 - First general volunteer labor allowed to clean debris.
  • Aug 18 - Tornado strikes. First responders work through the night.

Want to Help?

If You Need Help - If you need assistance, including monetary assistance, please contact Cindy Enyart at resourcecoordinator@tds.net or (608)205-9898 as soon as possible. She is the Resource Coordinator charged with getting the resources donated through the Stoughton Area Tornado Relief Fund and other community sources to the people who need them.

Most volunteer efforts are winding down, but there are still ways you can provide direct financial aid.

  • Stoughton Area Tornado Relief Fund - Contact: Wells Fargo Bank @ (608) 873-7202
  • Chamber of Commerce $2 Bracelet - Purchase at any Stoughton Chamber of Commerce business (benefiting Stoughton Area Tornado Relief Fund)
  • Lutheran tornado victims fund - Contact: First Lutheran Church @ (608) 873-7761
  • Harold Orlofske Memorial Fund - Contact: Evergreen State Bank @ (608) 873-6681
  • (Regional and National Charities Listed on "Links" Page)

Is your event or fund not listed? Contact me today!

Federal Help Is Available

In lieu of FEMA aid, two other federal agencies have stepped up to help. The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low interest loans (2.6-4%) up to $200,000 for home repairs, $40,000 to replace personal property and $1.5 million for businesses. The Farm Service Agency (part of U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) is also making disaster loans available to affected farmers in the Stoughton area.

Live Near Stoughton? Get the Hub!

Bar none, the best coverage of the tornado can be found in the August 25 and September 1, 2005 editions of the once-a-week Stoughton Courier-Hub. (The August 18 edition was really put to bed on August 16.) If you can get your hands on a copy of this paper, please do. The accuracy of the figures, the quality of the map, the lack of a need to interest Madison readers and even the advertisements placed after the disaster should not be missed.

Sources and Attribution

To give readers a flavor of the coverage, I have borrowed some photos, articles and screenshots from various local media. Wherever I have done this I have provided full attribution and a link (if available) to the original source.

If you are having trouble locating a particular story or photo you remember seeing, please contact me; I've been saving local copies of almost everything I've seen about the tornado, but I won't be publishing everything to conserve bandwidth and avoid annoying media attorneys. Also, if you think my attribution is incomplete or I am engaging in a little more than fair use, please contact me. Finally, if you have any pictures, video, stories or anything else you wish to share with the world, please contact me.

"www.StoughtonTornado.org" is owned by Jonathan G. Lampe This not-for-profit web site hosts a scrapbook covering the August 18, 2005 Stoughton area tornado. The photo of the tornado in the header was taken by Jerry Currie and is used with his permission. Copyright is claimed only to protect my right to publish my own (rather sparse) original content; you are free to make copies of my original content. Archived and attributed content (e.g., images and articles) may be subject to individual copyrights. Sources, attribution and original publisher are listed to the best of my ability. This site is not an official publication nor am I officially connected to the Stoughton Area Tornado Relief Fund or the Long Term Recovery Board , although I consider myself a "booster".