IRON COUNTY (WXOW) -- State emergency management officials are helping local agencies assess damage in northern Wisconsin counties impacted by flooding since Monday night.
Gov. Scott Walker's office declared a state of emergency Tuesday in eight counties, including three hard-hit areas: Ashland, Bayfield and Iron counties. Severe flooding has washed out portions of roads, cutting off entire communities and leaving people stranded.
"We need help out here. Our roads are our central life. Many of these are people's fields, their livelihoods, they're their whole life," says Sheryl Granger, from Marengo, in Ashland County.
Lori Getter, crisis communications manager with Wisconsin Emergency Management, says the waters are starting to recede in some areas, allowing crews to get a better look at the damage, but it's still to early to know how many roads are impacted.
County and state engineers are inspecting roads and bridges, starting with main routes.
"We're focusing on the major thoroughfares, the major highways right now, the major roads. Crews are working very hard to get those roads fixed to have detours in place so people can travel," says Getter.
It's the worst damage the area has seen since the late 1990's, according to Getter. Two people have died in flash floods since the storm hit. Recovery could take weeks, months or even up to a year depending on how severe the damage is in different areas.
Wisconsin Emergency Management is working with the National Guard, the DNR, health officials and local agencies with the priority of keeping people safe and opening roads.
Meanwhile, flooding is still ongoing in Hayward, where Silver Creek is still rising. People in the downtown area are using sandbags to protect their homes.
Anyone planning to travel north in the coming days should check conditions in the area before heading out on the roads. Wisconsin DOT is keeping an updated list of affected roads at www.511wi.gov.