State of emergency continues in Houston County - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

State of emergency continues in Houston County


CALEDONIA, Minnesota (WXOW)-- The weekend rainfall left areas around Wisconsin and Minnesota flooded and without power.

Houston County in Minnesota declared a state of emergency. Preliminary damage estimates are around $2 million, but head of Houston County Emergency Management, Kurt Kuhlers, says he expects that number to climb.

"Majority of the damage was water over the roadways," Kuhlers said. "We've had several washouts. We had one highway, County 27 that was completely washed out."

The emergency declaration allows the highway department to bring in private contractors to assist with repairs without going through the bidding process.

The Root River's rising waters forced some business evacuations along County 7.

"Culverts are out, we had some concerns with high waters on some of our bridges," Kuhlers said.

The owner of Tri-State Auto Outlet in Hokah, moved all 60 of the shop's cars to higher ground.

"We would have probably had about 10 of them that would have had water in them," Tom Oldenburg said.

Oldenburg is no stranger to flash floods. Back in 2007 all 75 of the vehicles in his lot were destroyed.

"The creek over here flooded and took out every one of them," Oldenburg said. "We didn't want that to happen again."

This year the county put out a code red notification, a system developed in 2008. It works like a reverse 911 call and allows emergency management to get out a mass message to residents.

"It was really kind of nice this year to have the notice," Oldenburg said.

And with more rain the forecast, Oldenburg says they might not be out of the woods yet.

We're within a couple feet of going over again, so it's something we're going to have to watch the next few days."

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