Wisconsin Emergency Management: Storms, flooding public damage at $44 million

MADISON —  Wisconsin emergency officials say storms and flooding over the last two weeks has caused at least $44 million in damage to public infrastructure.

Wisconsin Emergency Management spokesman Andrew Beckett says that number is expected to grow. He says many communities are still too busy responding to flooding to tabulate damage estimates.

Rounds of thunderstorms have pummeled southern Wisconsin over the last two weeks, dumping as much as 14 inches of rain in some spots and causing widespread flooding. At least 16 tornadoes touched down in the state on Tuesday.

Forecasts call for two to three inches of rain Friday night into Saturday morning. Beckett says that could exacerbate flooding along the already swollen Baraboo and Kickapoo rivers.

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The Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs offered this flooding update Friday, Aug. 31, heading into the Labor Day holiday weekend — with more rain in the forecast:

“Several communities in southern and western Wisconsin continue to deal with flooding. Rain and potentially severe storms in the forecast for this weekend could result in additional flooding. Flash flood watches are in effect for several counties in east central and northwestern Wisconsin.

Water levels on the Baraboo, Kickapoo, and Fox rivers remain above flood stage, with flooding reported along the Kickapoo River at Gays Mills, La Farge, Steuben, Viola, and Readstown, and along the Baraboo River at Reedsburg, La Valle, Rock Springs, and Baraboo. While the Kickapoo River has crested and started to drop, the Baraboo River may crest Saturday. Water levels are rising on the Fox River at Princeton, which is expected to pass flood stage in the coming days. Montello and surrounding areas in Marquette County are also experiencing flooding.

As many people head out for the holiday weekend, they are urged to check 511wi.gov for current road closure information. If drivers encounter a closed route or standing water on a roadway, turn around and find another route. Do not drive around barricades or on flooded roads.

Governor Scott Walker has declared a statewide State of Emergency, whichdirects state agencies to assist local governments and allows the Wisconsin National Guard to be called to active duty by the adjutant general if requested. The governor on Friday viewed flood damage and met with residents in Sauk County.

While the focus remains on protecting the safety of the public and preventing further damage to private property and public infrastructure, some areas have started to collect damage information. Preliminary estimates show at least $44 million in damage to public infrastructure has been reported so far, although that number is expected to grow as more communities begin to assess damage in the days ahead.

Private property owners should continue to report flood and storm damage by calling 2-1-1 or 877-947-2211. Make sure to document losses and speak with an insurance agent. Multiple resources designed to help residents with their recovery efforts are being posted online HERE.”

Meanwhile, officials with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation offered this update Friday on road closures associated with the flooding:

Crawford County

  • WIS 131 is closed from US 60 to US 61 (Soldiers Grove). No detour.
  • WIS 171 is closed between WIS 27 (Mount Sterling) to US 61 (Rolling Ground). No detour.
  • WIS 179 is closed from WIS 27 (Eastman) to WIS 131 (Steuben). No detour. 

Columbia County

  • WIS 127 is closed from WIS 16 (Wisconsin Dells) to WIS 16 (Portage). No detour.

Dane County

  • US 14 is closed between Cross Plains and Black Earth; traffic detoured via WIS 78 and US 12. 

La Crosse County

  • WIS 35 is open to one lane with flagging operations from County K to US 14.

Marquette County

  • WIS 23 is closed at the Neenah Creek bridge, two miles east of Briggsville; traffic detoured via WIS 82 and WIS 13.
  • WIS 22 is closed at the Main Street bridge over the Montello River in Montello; traffic detoured via WIS 33, WIS 44 and WIS 73.  

Sauk County

  • WIS 33 is closed at Albert Street in Reedsburg. No detour.
  • WIS 58 is closed between County G (Ironton) and WIS 33 (LaValle). No detour.
  • WIS 113 is closed at County W (Baraboo). No detour.
  • WIS 136 is closed from WIS 33 (Rock Springs) to WIS 154 (Rock Springs). No detour.
  • WIS 154 is closed between WIS 23 (South of Reedsburg) and WIS 136 (Rock Springs). No detour. 

Vernon County

  • WIS 131 is closed between Ontario and Rockton. Traffic is detoured via WIS 82 and WIS 33.
  • WIS 131 is closed from County S to Viola. No detour.