SILVER LAKE -- Federal officials arrived in Southeastern Wisconsin to begin touring the areas impacted by record flooding July 11th-12th. In Bristol, a meeting was held Monday before tours get underway Tuesday, August 1st. Teams of FEMA, state, and local officials will be assigned to Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties.
Prior to the meeting, FOX6 News stopped by the home of David Fiegel, who has lived in Silver Lake since he was four. We visited the Fiegels' home during the flooding and saw the 74-year-old homeowner plowing his wheelchair through the floodwaters.
"70 years exactly this year. It was March 1st, 1947 when my folks bought it and moved in from Burlington," Fiegel said.
While the Fox River has encroached on their home plenty of times in the past, Fiegel said it was nothing like this.
"39 inches in front of the garage door. We never had water in the house up until now," Fiegel said.
The water ruined the electrical system and claimed just about all of their appliances.
"The furnace, the air conditioner, the washer, the dryer," Fiegel listed, adding the water heater and humidifier will also have to be replaced.
FEMA officials met with state and local emergency agencies Monday afternoon to plan damage assessment tours in Kenosha, Racine and Walworth Counties. The groups will be split into two teams; one will focus on public infrastructure damage while the other will evaluate the impact on individual properties.
"We want to know exactly how much damage there was and then look at where we can the most help the fastest for the largest amount of people," Tod Pritchard, a spokesman for Wisconsin Emergency Management said.
Pritchard said officials currently estimate the floods caused about $8.6 million dollars' worth of damage to infrastructure in the three counties. So far, state officials are aware of four houses destroyed by the flooding. Pritchard said the tour will get more precise numbers on both counts.
The estimates will then go to Governor Scott Walker, who will decide whether to ask for federal help. If Washington approves the request, FEMA can give homeowners grants of up to $33,400. A spokesman said homeowners can help speed up the process.
"As they're cleaning up, keep track of what's happening. Take pictures with your phone. Keep receipts for anything you've spent," said FEMA spokesman Dan Shulman.
Yet, for the Fiegels, none of the damage compares to the loss of priceless possessions.
"On the front porch by the river, we had a milk can that had (his wife) Joyce's dad's name on it," Fiegel said before pausing to compose himself, "And it floated down the river. We don't know where it is."
During the flood, FOX6 saw Fiegel take his wheelchair into the water.
"Now it makes funny noises, but it's still going," Fiegel said.
The chair is, in some ways, symbolic of the community.
"We couldn't beat it. It beat us, but it didn't beat us completely. We're still fighting. We're here," Fiegel said.
Officials say anyone who has reported damage to their county's emergency management office is already on the list of places to visit. If anyone has damage that hasn't been reported, you should do so first thing Tuesday morning.
CLICK HERE if you'd like to donate to a GoFundMe.com account set up for the Fiegel family.