August 20 Flood Summary Southwest Wisconsin - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

August 20 Flood Summary Southwest Wisconsin


An update we published in August 2007 on the widespread damage done by the rains and floodwaters:

The State Patrol has 20 officers assigned for traffic control points in the Gays Mills and Soldiers Grove areas.

WisDOT highway engineers and staff are monitoring roads and bridges.

DNR wardens are standing by with rescue boats, and DNR dam safety inspectors are monitoring dams.

DHFS Division of Public Health has provided information to Crawford, Richland and Vernon counties to share with local media about drinking and surface water health concerns. On Monday, 180 doses of tetanus vaccine will be provided to county health departments (60 doses each). In addition, 200 water bacteria test kits will be distributed to the three county health departments on Monday.

DHFS Human Services staff members are assisting local nursing homes, health care and rehabilitation centers that may need to relocate residents.

Red Cross has shelters operating and is coordinating feeding of residents and emergency workers with the Salvation Army. At last report on Sunday night, about 44 people were sheltered in Richland Center, 10 in La Crosse and nine in Soldiers Grove.


LA CROSSE COUNTY (population 109,404)

Hwy. 35 remains closed south from Hwy 14/61 in La Crosse County through all of Vernon County. The highway is impassable with numerous washouts. The area is considered hazardous and open to emergency personnel only.

HWY 14 between La Crosse and Richland Center is open.

All rural roads have the potential for being hazardous. Roads and trees may be unstable due to soft ground and washouts. The potential will be heightened with more rain.

Utility companies are in the area working to restore power and telephone service.

CRAWFORD COUNTY (population 17,060)

An estimated 300 homes throughout the county have been impacted. No estimates yet on the extent of monetary damages to private property and public infrastructure.

In Gays Mills (population 625), water is between 5 and 7 feet deep in the downtown area and approximately 90% of homes have water over the first floor. About 75 homes in downtown Gays Mills were evacuated on Sunday. Red Cross set up a shelter at North Crawford School. About 50 families have reported to the shelter.

The Gays Mills sewer treatment plan is offline and cannot resume operation until power is restored to the village. Sewer back-ups are occurring throughout the village. Mutual aid fire and public works personnel will be needed once the water recedes to assist in utility restoration and pumping of basements.

As a precaution, six patients from a Soldiers Grove nursing home were evacuated to a nursing home in Boscobel. The remaining 58 residents were initially relocated to the fire station, but they now have been relocated to other health care facilities in the area. There is a concern that a hill behind the facility may give way to a mudslide.

Crawford County requested assistance from other emergency management personnel in unaffected counties. Six county EM directors have volunteered to assist and will begin to report on Monday morning.

RICHLAND COUNTY (population 18,341)

According to a preliminary estimate, the county has reported $1.4 in damages to private property and $1.7 million in damages to public property. Early assessments indicate 34 homes have been damaged and two destroyed.

A vague report was received by DNR about flooding and bridge damage on HWY 193, (between HWY 60 and HWY 80) which is reportedly closed by flooding with possible bridge damage. The Balmoral Dam (Rodolf) is immediately upstream of the HWY 193 bridge on Mill Creek. No damage to the dam has been reported to the EOC.

County Emergency Management requested 10,000 sandbags from WI Emergency Management, which are stored at Volk Field.

VERNON COUNTY (population 29,188)

According to a preliminary estimate, county has reported $1.3 million in private property damage and $8 million in public property damage, mostly roads.

HWY 35 remains closed in the county.

Dams have been monitored all day. Evacuations were conducted downstream of seven dams. Some of these evacuations were due to high flows on streams and others due to concerns about the dams. The exact number of people evacuated is unknown but is estimated at 75 to 100.

Three of the dams are under significant stress, and there is a danger of failure:

West Fork Kickapoo River 17 (Primmer): Significant seepage with erosion of the hillside adjacent to the dam.

Bad Axe River 12 (Runge Hollow): Auxiliary spillway has been flowing 3-4 deep resulting in erosion of 70% of the length of the spillway (as of 7 p.m.)

West Fork Kickapoo River 5 (Seas Branch) Seepage and soil saturation in earthen auxiliary spillway. County Hwy Y is closed downstream of river.

Two other dams: West Fork Kickapoo 16 (Clockmaker) and West Fork Kickapoo 4 (Hidden Valley) show signs of damage but are not considered in danger of failure at this time.

The other dams where evacuation occurred were Bad Axe 2 (Raaum) and Bad Axe 11 (Duck Egg). Auxiliary spillways were flowing and no problems reported.

Most of the dams were built in the 1960s and 1970s. DNR has two dam engineers assisting Vernon County personnel with dam evaluations. The 13 dams inspected on Sunday range in height from 29 to 73 feet and impound from 38 to 6,500 acres of water.

Vernon County inspects and maintains its dam (county owns 22 dams) on a regular basis. The county has an emergency response plan for its dams.

Of the 13 dams evaluated on Sunday, eight are high hazard (potential for loss of life), three have significant hazards (potential for significant property damage), and two are low hazard (minimal damage potential).

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