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Flood waters recede, damage does not

POSTED July 2, 2013 8:59 a.m.

The Mississippi River — the repository of up to 13 inches of rain that fell on communities east of the Mississippi last week — dropped below flood stage Monday.

That doesn’t mean the effects of the flooding have ended.

Two major roads remain closed due to flood damage in southwest Wisconsin — U.S. 61 north of the Boscobel bridge, and Wisconsin 35 from Prairie du Chien to Lynxville.

Grant County M is also closed between County T and County G and between County T and Boscobel. Also closed due to bridges being out are Johnson Road in the Town of Hickory Grove, and Old C at Studenberg Road.

In addition, the boat landing at Wyalusing State Park is inaccessible because Long Valley Road is closed indefinitely due to washouts.

Following is a digest of information on post-flood resources:

State of emergency: Gov. Scott Walker Wednesday declared a state of emergency in Grant, Crawford, Iowa and Richland counties.

The declaration authorized the call-up of the Wisconsin National Guard as determined necessary by the state adjutant general to assist in recovery efforts.

“The damage caused by flooding in Wisconsin has the full attention and resources of the State,” said Walker in a news release. “I have instructed state agencies and the Wisconsin National Guard to aid those affected by the flooding as they recover and rebuild.”

Available state government services as a result of the declaration include:

•    The Department of Administration will work with communities to make emergency assistance funds available to eligible homeowners for rehabilitation work. Funds for qualifying businesses will also be made available as well as funds to repair public infrastructure, where eligible. Local communities are being directed to work with the state Division of Housing to apply.

•    The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection will connect farmers with crop damage and livestock shelter needs for assistance and counseling through the Farm Center and Animal Health Division. To contact the division, call 1-800-942-2474 or go to http://datcp.wi.gov/News/?ID=862.

•    The Department of Natural Resources will provide assistance for residents and local governments concerned about well contamination. The DNR is monitoring dams in the affected areas, and will make available assistance for flood mitigation to eligible communities. The DNR also will also open up public lands for farmers with fields impacted by flooding to mow hay for livestock, as the DNR did last year due to the drought. For more information go to http://dnr.wi.gov/emergency/FloodCoping.html.

•    The Office of Commissioner of Insurance will make assistance available for property owners filing flood-related claims. Homeowners can contact the OCI helpline, 1-800-236-8517, for assistance with homeowner insurance coverage, or go to www.OCI.wi.gov.

•    The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority will provide access to emergency funding for local assistance organizations giving assistance to affected residents. WHEDA will work with homeowners with WHEDA home loans. For more information, call 1-800-562-5546.

•    The Department of Transportation will work with communities to make funds available for infrastructure repair. The Wisconsin State Patrol is also managing road traffic and closures in the affected areas. Staff is inspecting and documenting impacts and damages to infrastructure, including the deployment of soil engineers to survey mud slides.

•    The Department of Health Services is in contact with local health departments to provide assistance. DHS will be working with the DNR to monitor water quality concerns and will continue to work with other state and local partners to provide public health assistance. For more information on flooding from DHS, click here.

•    The Department of Corrections assisted in Crawford County with two teams from Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution to assist with flood damage in Gays Mills and Prairie du Chien. The inmates helped with sandbagging and debris clean-up. County emergency managers can contact correctional institutions to request additional assistance.

High water: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed the Grant River Recreation Area June 25 due to high water. The Corps of Engineers announced today that the recreation area will reopen Wednesday.

The Cassville Ferry will be closed until the Mississippi drops below 13 feet.

Wells: Private well owners are urged to take action immediately if their wells become flooded.

“If you see your well surrounded by floodwaters, stop drinking water from the well, and have it tested to assure it’s safe before you start drinking the water again,” said Steve Ales, private water section chief for the Department of Natural Resources. “Flood waters contain bacteria and waste contaminants that can threaten water supplies. Wells located in pits and basements are especially susceptible to such contamination.”

Well owners whose wells become flooded should assume their wells are contaminated and take the following steps:

•    Stop drinking the water and find another known, safe source of water to use.

•    Disinfect the well.

•    Sample the well after disinfection to assure the well water is bacteriologically safe before drinking, cooking or preparing food with it. Wells should be disinfected with a chlorine solution and that solution must come in contact with all the surfaces of the well, from top to bottom, and throughout the plumbing distribution system, Ales says.

“Disinfecting the well is work best done by a licensed well driller or pump installer,” he said.

Farms and insurance: DATCP encourages farmers who have crop insurance to get in touch with their agents with questions about what is covered by their plan and what recording needs to be done.

Farmers should also report crop damage and failed acres to their county Farm Service Agency office. Any damage to conservation structures — such as dams, buffer strips and side waterways — may also be reported to the FSA. For details on FSA updates or contact information for county offices, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/wi.

UW–Extension has its the Farmer to Farmer Hay, Forage and Corn List on its website at http://farmertofarmer.uwex.edu/. This site connects buyers and sellers of hay, alfalfa haylage, corn silage, high moisture corn, corn grain and other forages. The service is free.

DATCP’s Wisconsin Farm Center is available to answer questions and connect farmers with available resources. The Farm Center services are free and available weekdays from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 1-800-942-2474 or farmcenter@wisconsin.gov.

Lists of pump installers and well drillers and laboratories certified to test water for bacteria can be found by searching the on DNR website for “flood,” and clicking on the link for “Recommendations for private wells inundated by flooding.”
For more information about Coping with Flooding on topics ranging from debris clean-up to recreation safety, search the DNR website for keyword “flood.”

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