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Storm-related derailment awaits cleanup





LA CROSSE -- Crews from Oklahoma were expected to arrive here Thursday evening with the heavy equipment necessary to lift a series of rail cars that derailed after being pushed near a quarter-mile by winds gusting to 100 mph.

Rush County Sheriff Ward Corsair said the National Weather Service had contacted his office Wednesday night and said a "bow echo," a type of storm that packs high winds, was approaching.

Corsair said winds were blowing at speeds of 80 to 90 mph, with gusts up to 100 mph.

"That's what the weather service told us," he said from the scene of the Kansas and Oklahoma Railroad train derailment.

Initial reports suggested the 43 rail cars had traveled nearly a mile from where they had been parked.

But railroad employees said the cars had been parked approximately a quarter-mile from where they ultimately stopped -- yards away from Main Street in La Crosse.

One of the cars struck the corner of a storage building owned by Enslinger Lumber.

"The derail did its job," a railroad worker said as he surveyed the damage.

The derail is designed to stop a train.

Had the derail not worked, he said, it's uncertain when it would have stopped.