Ten years ago severe floods hit southern Wisconsin. Wisconsin Emergency Management says three people died and thousands of businesses and homes were destroyed in 31 counties throughout the month of June, 2008.
Gays Mills was hit particularly hard. The village is located about 50 miles southeast of La Crosse. Ten months earlier in August 2007 the community experienced flooding. By June 2008 when the heavy rain came again, the ground was still saturated. The rain had nowhere to go and for the second time in less than a year, residents were dealing with another major flood.
That experience began a discussion in town. Should residents stay or move homes and business to higher ground? Eventually, they began working with federal, state and county officials to move businesses and homes. That decision followed the lead of nearby Soldiers Grove. Residents there faced similar issues after flooding in 1978. They relocated their business district to avoid additional flood damage. The move took about six years and cost about six million dollars.
The move for Gays Mills worked. Wisconsin Emergency Management says when flooding happened again in 2016 and 2017, only a few businesses and homes left in the downtown area were impacted.
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