City of Burlington getting a closer look at flood damage as water levels recede

BURLINGTON -- A curfew has been reinstated for the City of Burlington as officials monitor the severe flooding in the city. The curfew will be in effect from 10:00 p.m. Thursday, July 13th until 6:00 a.m. Friday. The Fox River in Burlington crested early Thursday at 16.5 feet -- a full three feet higher than the previous record set nearly a decade ago.

There's good news and bad: no deaths or serious injuries have been reported since the flooding began early Wednesday. But as water levels begin to recede, the extent of the damage is becoming clearer.

"The water levels have lowered from their historic highs of 16.5 feet," said Burlington Police Chief Mark Anderson.

By Saturday morning, officials estimate those levels will drop another two-and-a-half feet. A curfew remains in place from 10:00 p.m. Thursday to 6:00 a.m. Friday, as all four the city's bridges remain closed and health concerns arise.

"Municipal water is safe for drinking," said Hope Otto, Racine County Health and Human Services.

After declaring a state of emergency, Governor Scott Walker toured impacted areas as the National Guard was deployed to help with traffic issues and welfare checks.

"It's one of the most aggressive flooding events we've seen in the state in some time," said Walker.

"We will be here as long as the incident commander requires us," said Captain Joe Trovoto, Wisconsin National Guard. "As of about 4:00 this afternoon, we conducted approximately 120 health and welfare checks -- knocked on 120 doors."

It's still "lights out" throughout much of the city. Power outages initially impacted 25,000 homes. By Thursday afternoon, that number was down to just 4,000 with the goal of zero by Friday at noon. As the sun sets on a city still desperately trying to dry out.

"The best thing you can do is check on your friends, family and neighbors," said Anderson.

House Speaker Paul Ryan also makes a stop in Burlington, praising cleanup efforts and the strength of its residents.

Paul Ryan

"As far as my role as a federal rep, it's to make sure we get the damage assessments to see if it rises to the level where assistance occurs," Ryan said.

If you're wondering how you can help, Burlington's police chief says cash donations are being accepted at all BMO Harris Banks in the region. At this point, he says that's the best way to help.