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Intense storm mangles area
flooded fence
The area is still reeling from the lashing it received from an intense storm front that rolled through last Thursday night, Sept. 12.
What started as a smattering of rain quickly gained momentum as a warm front continued to lift north. The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for portions of Grant County, and reported radar indicated rotation near the Patch Grove and Mount Hope area.  The severe weather warnings were followed by flash flood and flood warnings into Thursday night and over the weekend due to the heavy rains and resulting flooding in such places as the Grant and Platte Rivers in Grant County and the Pecatonica River and its East Branch in Lafayette County.
According to the National Weather Service La Crosse office, rainfall Thursday included 2.23 inches in Fennimore and 4.22 at the Boscobel Airport and 3.67 in Boscobel, 4.37 inches in Garber, Iowa, and 4.03 inches in McGregor Iowa.
Luckily, the storm itself left almost as quickly as it came. However, many homes, properties and roadways were left with damage from winds and high rushing water.
Area damaged
Tom and Linda Parrish of rural Fennimore were among those who were affected by the storms.  
Driving up to the Parrish’s farm along Highway 61, south of Fennimore, a large Cottonwood had fallen, along with another large tree which brushed the Parrish’s porch.
Scraps of tin of all sizes littered the yard of their home as well.  Looking out across the highway you can also see a row of chopper boxes that belong to their neighbors turned every which way.
“I was watching the weather channel last night until we lost service with the satellite dish,” Tom said. “I came outside and thought ‘we have a problem.”
Parrish noted that the wind was bearing down hard on the farm from the North East. When he checked his digital weather vane, he saw speeds up wards of 79 miles per hour.
“You know the funny thing about that is my kids got it for me for Christmas, and I didn’t get it put together until about two weeks ago when my grand kids came to visit,” Tom noted with a chuckle.
Tom went back in the house and heard his wife Linda remark that her ears popped.  
“I knew something odd was going on. A few minutes later I looked back out the door and saw tin flying by and I yelled ‘GET IN THE BASEMENT!’” Tom said.
Surveying the damage
The next morning as Tom surveyed the damage he found many unusual sights that the storm left in its wake like displaced tin scraps and branches.
Perhaps one of the most mind boggling would be the piece of tin that was ripped off the back side of the barn roof and flew across the barn yard and into the shed where the couple stores hay, a tractor and their brand new (to them) Chevy SSR convertible truck.
“This is something to see!” Tom noted walking up. The large sheet of tin, at least five feet long was wrapped up on a pole on the tractor, thankfully without a scratch on the truck.     
Years ago, Tom took a weather spotters class, and although he is quick to point out he’s “no meteorologist,” his keen eye and quick sense of judgement proved right when he felt the storm was more than your average Wisconsin thunderstorm.
“You could see out west, the layers of clouds over lapping,” Tom described. “And tornado winds are funny, unique winds.  It seems like we can’t just get a inch or two of rain. This has been one unique year, a challenging year for farmers, for everyone in terms of weather.”
But, despite the damage, Tom is still thankful for the best outcome.  
“It is what it is,” Tom said. “What is really important is that Linda and I are okay. Things can be fixed or replaced, but we’re okay and safe.”
Reports flood in
Steve Braun the Director of the Grant County Emergency Management said although there are no confirmed tornados, the damage reports continue to flood in.
“We spent the weekend working in communities and getting an idea off what happened,” Braun said. “Our best guess...estimate at this time, with out all of the communities reporting is around $750,000. We are already applying for disaster funding and are eligible for that, if we receive it, usually about 70 percent is covered. On the residential side, its going to definitely exceed one million dollars.”
Braun noted a high number of reports from residential damage included missing or damaged culverts and flooded hot water heaters.
“It all happened so fast,” Braun pointed out. “We knew there was a high risk of flooding and knew it wouldn’t take much with the ground being so saturated . We are now working on piecing together a picture of what the damage looks like. It extends across a large area of the county.”
Some of the most notable damage was in southern Lafayette County, where the Lafayette County I Kelsey Branch bridge south of New Diggings is closed after a large chunk of the northern approach to the bridge caved in.
“It moved all of the riprap that was protecting this abutment downstream 150 feet and left a gaping hole in the approach on the southbound lane,” said Lafayette County Highway Commissioner Tom Jean. “Luckily it was discovered before anyone drove into it.”
The bridge itself was inspected and is in good condition, Jean said.
“Our goal is to pour a concrete wall to reinforce and encapsulate the exposed pilings, replace the riprap that was washed away, and grout the new riprap to prevent a similar event from happening again,” said Jean. “We are in the process of trying to find a contractor that has both the expertise and time to get this done as soon as possible.”
The Grant River at Burton, where flood stage is 18 feet, reached 23.54 feet Thursday around 1 p.m., dropped, then rose again over 20 feet Friday afternoon before receding. The Kickapoo River at Steuben reached 12.53 feet, above flood stage of 12 feet, Friday late afternoon. The Cedar River at Lansing, Iowa, reached 18.17 feet, above flood stage of 18 feet, early Friday morning.
Water was reported over roads in several areas Thursday evening and Friday. Big Platte Road north of Grant County O was closed Friday due to flooding onto the roadway. Firefighters in several communities were called out for closed roads Thursday night, including U.S. 61 in Rockville.
Three bridges in Belmont were under water Thursday night. Wisconsin 126 was closed at Lafayette County XX on Belmont’s south side. Several roads were closed in the Darlington area and elsewhere in Lafayette County. Commerce Street in Mineral Point, Iowa County P west-southwest of Avoca, and East Spring Street at North Iowa Street in Dodgeville,  were underwater.
A large portion of the expected estimated costs comes from the Town of Millville, which has an estimated $300,000 of damage. Clark Road in Millville, for example, is washed out in a few places, with high water causing bridge damage — buckling the pavement at the approaches — as well as culverts that have been plugged and partially exposed.
The Town of Woodman is second on the list with $200,000, while the Town of Marion reports at least $131,000 in damage. The Town of Beetown, which was dealing with high water during both major storms last week, has $55,000 in damage.
Reports saturated the popular Layfayette-Grant County WI Scanner page.
Images of the parking lot at the Prairie du Chien Walmart completely covered with a foot or more of water went viral along with an image of a wild river raging in the neighborhood adjacent.
The page reported that Fennimore Fire was paged to shut down Cty. Q from Homer Road to Tormey Road- this incited both well wishers for the road crew and emergency crews as well as locals offering possible alternative routes for those traveling in the early morning hours.
911 services in Grant County were also reported to be briefly affected by the storm passing through.
The Lactalis Cheese Plant in Belmont required assistance as water rushed into the facility and filled the parking lot, disabling employee vehicles.
There was also a report of a BNSF train hitting a tree north of Glen Haven.
More locally, in Boscobel water was reported to be up to the bumpers on some vehicles near Kronshage park, Highway 61 at Stenner Hill suffered from flooding and part of the hillside on 61 outside of Boscobel collapsed.
“It was terrible,” was how rural Fennimore resident Angie Monroe described the night on Plum Valley Road. “It looked like a river! Our creek which is normally two feet was 30 feet wide. It took out all of our tubes and washed them away.”
Along with debris and drainage tubes moved, Angie found an abundance of fish from a neighbors pond through out her yard in the aftermath.
Angie, like many other area residents who suffered damage, reported “never seeing water like this” before.
The Grant County Emergency Management strongly encourages anyone with residential flood or storm damage to continue to report it. You can do so by emailing Steve Braun at or calling 608-723-7171 and leaving a message for Braun. Please leave a phone number, email address if you have one, and a description of the damage you sustained.
More information and updates from the Grant County Emergency management is also available on their Facebook page.

Steve Prestegauard of the Platteville Journal and David Timmerman of the Grant County Herald Independent also contributed to this story.