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Public input sought on Crawford Countys multi-hazard mitigation plan
CC admin building

CRAWFORD COUNTY -  is holding a public input session on the final draft of their 2019-2023 Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan. The meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 17, at 5 p.m., at the Crawford County Highway Department Building, located at 21515 Highway 27, just south of Seneca.

The public input meeting is the last chance citizens will have to provide input before the plan goes before the Crawford County Board of Supervisors at their February 2019 meeting.

The plan details the county’s likelihood of experiencing any of a variety of natural disasters, and what the county’s plan will be to help prepare for and respond to the disaster if it happens. Hazards addressed in the plan include: hailstorms, lightning storms, thunderstorms, tornado/high winds, flooding, dam failure flooding, forest/wildfire, heavy snowstorm, ice storm, blizzard, extreme cold, earthquake, extreme heat, drought, fog, landslide, sinkhole opening (subsidence), pandemic flu, railroad, and river traffic.

“The biggest thing in the plan is really the projects listed in Chapter Four,” Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission representative Dave Bonifas said. “ We really want input from the townships and general public so we can think proactively about how to prevent disasters rather than just waiting until they happen.”

Input into the plan

In creating the plan, villages and townships were asked to participate in its development. The county used four surveys, committee meetings, individual community meetings, a Towns Association meeting, and news releases as methods to garner public input into the plan.

The towns of Bridgeport, Freeman, Haney, Prairie du Chien, and Seneca, all villages within the county, and the City of Prairie du Chien responded to the Risk Assessment Survey. The towns of Clayton, Eastman, Marietta, Scott, Utica and Wauzeka did not respond.

The town of Haney, and the villages of Bell Center, Eastman, Ferryville, Lynxville, Mt. Sterling, Soldiers Grove, Steuben, Wauzeka, and the City of Prairie du Chien responded to the Mitigation Projects Survey. The towns of Bridgeport, Clayton, Eastman, Freeman, Marietta, Prairie du Chien, Scott, Seneca, Utica, and Wauzeka, and the village of DeSoto did not respond. The Village of Gays Mills responded via individual meeting.

A complete copy of the final draft of the plan can be found online at

Hazard ratings

The hazard ratings included in the plan are for each of the natural hazards identified as occurring in the State of Wisconsin. Each hazard is assesses on the historical occurrence, vulnerability to a hazard, probability of a hazard occurring again, and a local official’s opinion survey. From this is generated a final risk assessment of high, moderate or low. Each jurisdiction within the county is considered to have the same risk to each hazard, with the exception of flooding. Only the villages of Eastman and Mt. Sterling do not have a flooding risk.

An overall risk assessment of 22 points or greater equates to a ‘high’ risk. An overall assessment of 17 to 21 points is a ‘moderate’ risk; and an overall assessment of 16 points or less is a ‘low’ risk.

What follows is Crawford County’s risk assessments in descending order:

High Hazard

Heavy Snow – High (30)

Flooding – High (25)

Tornado – High (24)

Hailstorm – High (23)

Lightning – High (23)

Thunderstorm – High (22)

Ice Storm – High (22)

Extreme Cold – High (22)

Moderate Hazard

Extreme Heat – Moderate (21)

Blizzard – Moderate (18)

Fog – Moderate (18)

Drought – Moderate (16)

Low Hazard

Pandemic Flu – Low (14)

Railroad – Low (12)

Earthquake – Low (12)

River Traffic – Low (12)

Ag Vulnerability – Low (11)

Dam Failure – Low (8)

Landslide – Low (8)

Forest Fire – Low (8)

Sinkholes – Low (6)

Flooding and dams

Perhaps the most devastating recurring natural disaster in the county is flooding. Crawford County is home only to one major flood control dam, the Blackhawk-Kickapoo Dam on Johnstown Road, unlike Vernon County to the north, which has 22 such structures. Given the five floods experienced in the Kickapoo River Valley in 2018, it would be understandable if the public were particularly interested in the proposed mitigation measures for the flooding hazard section.

Hazard mitigation measures for flooding proposed in the final draft of the plan include action items for the county, villages, townships and the City of Prairie du Chien.

1. The county and villages will investigate the concept of a voluntary floodplain property buyout program through a survey of property owners in the floodplain. The survey could also inquire about interest in flood proofing and/or elevations.

2. The county and villages will monitor and enforce N.R. 116 Floodplain, Shoreland-Wetland regulations, and any changes to them.

3. The county and villages will work to reduce or eliminate repetitive loss of substantially damaged structures by annually creating a list of such structures within their jurisdictions. County emergency management will communicate annually with owners of such structures, letting them know about techniques and potential state and federal resources available to help reduce future losses.

4. The county and villages will promote the National Flood Insurance Program through a community seminar with state and federal officials present to answer questions. Special emphasis will be given to the Village of Wauzeka, which is currently suspended from the program.

5. The county and the villages will identify and upgrade/improve or replace existing culverts and bridges within the county or village that are causing flooding issues or concerns as funding becomes available. Township projects are itemized as follows:

Bridgeport: Vineyard Road project

Eastman: drainage channel improvement along Walker Road adjacent to the Kickapoo

Eastman: DuCharme Ridge Road Hill from County D to the top of the hill – culvert replacement/drainage channel improvement

Eastman: Shanghai Ridge (Haddock Hill) – drainage channel improvement

Eastman: Morovitz Hollow Road from Valentine Lane to Highway 179 – drainage channel improvement

Eastman: replace undersized, deficient bridge on Plum Creek Road, and improve the drainage channel

Freeman: install two large culverts on White Road and County C, and widen the ditch on White Road for one half mile

Haney: install large drain tube on Newby Hollow Road

Marietta: replace undersized bridge and pave approaches on Clear Creek Road (1.6 miles northeast of Highway 60)

Prairie du Chien: survey floodplain property owners to investigate the possibility of providing public sewer service along County K and the Ambro area

DeSoto: culvert and asphalt replacement on Treadwell Street

Ferryville: purchase John Doe property in the flood fringe next to the Tower Buy Out site

Gays Mills: develop a list of equipment required to evacuate residents and purchase that equipment

Gays Mills: repair dip in the road on Highway 171 near the dam

Gays Mills: identify, acquire and remove abandoned buildings located in the flood plain

Gays Mills: install a web camera on the village website which would show the Kickapoo River level upstream of the village

Gays Mills: install a severe weather/flooding notification system

Gays Mills: develop and distribute an information packet/flyer which will inform residents what do before, during and after a flood

Gays Mills: backup generator for the Kickapoo Valley Medical Clinic

Wauzeka: install a stormwater detention pond by County N northeast of Rosemary Street

Prairie du Chien: acquisition of the WQPC radio station property located on St. Feriole Island – demolish the building and assist in the relocation of the radio station

6. The county zoning administrator and village clerks or designees will annually attend floodplain zoning seminars. The county zoning administrator will report quarterly on floodplain permit activity to the Local Emergency Planning Committee, and village clerks will report monthly to their village board. The county zoning administrator will administer, enforce and update the county’s floodplain ordinance as prescribed by law. The village clerks will administer and enforce the municipality’s floodplain ordinance as prescribed by law.

7. The county will work with the City of Prairie du Chien and the towns of Prairie du Chien, Bridgeport and Eastman to investigate the development of a joint flood warning and evacuation plan for Mississippi River property owners.

8. The county, villages of Soldiers Grove, Gays Mills, Bell Center, Steuben and Wauzeka, and the towns of Clayton, Haney, Marietta, Eastman, Wauzeka, will investigate the concept of development of a joint flood warning and evacuation plan for residents along the Kickapoo River.

9. The county will construct a longer bridge or bridges over the Kickapoo River so that the county is not cut in half during flooding events and reducing the response time of emergency first responders.

10. The county will investigate the costs and benefits of installing automated gages on the Kickapoo River between Steuben and LaFarge, and at the west branch and the main branch of the Kickapoo.

11. The county will continue the annual inspection and maintenance of the Blackhawk-Kickapoo Dam.

12. The county will investigate the concept of floodplain mapping of Sugar Creek in Utica and Freeman townships; Copper Creek in Utica and Seneca townships; Mill Coulee Creek in the Town of Prairie du Chien; Vineyard Coulee Creek in Prairie du Chien and Bridgeport townships; and Richland Creek in Scott and Marietta townships.

13. The county will review flood disaster impacts, and revise and update this plan as needed after a flood disaster. New flood hazard mitigation projects and strategies are likely to arise after a flood disaster. To deal with the situation the County Zoning Administrator and Emergency Management Director will meet and report in a timely manner to the County Local Emergency Planning Committee on potential changes to this plan. The committee will recommend reaffirmation or amendment or update (rewrite) to the County Board for action.

Other hazards

Understandably, the sections on other hazards are generally shorter. Some highlights include:

Train derailment:develop evacuation plans for DeSoto, Ferryville, Lynxville, Wauzeka and Prairie du Chien; obtain additional training for first responders; develop an emergency alert system to inform the public; and purchase a drone to obtain access and aerial views of a derailment site without jeopardizing humans. The Village of Ferryville will increase contact with state and federal agencies regarding what is moving on rails and possible training.

Snow, ice storms and blizzards:identify locations in the county where snow fences could be constructed, or trees and bushes (living snow fence) could be planted, to increase motor vehicle safety; investigate locations in the county where improvements could be made to eliminate drifting by cutting embankment areas. The Town of Eastman will cut back slopes on Shanghai Ridge, Wall Ridge, DuCharme Ridge, and Swatek Ridge to allow the snow to blow across the roadway instead of piling up. The Village of Ferryville will purchase a heavy-duty truck and plow, and ice removal equipment.

Earthquakes, landslides and sinkholes (subsidence):investigate developing an inventory/prioritization of roads/road segments that have shoulders with slopes conducive to erosion and land/mud slides. Stabilize those roads or road segments as funding becomes available.

Thunderstorm:the Village of Ferryville will establish an early warning siren for boaters on Lake Winneshiek/Mississippi River.

Forest/wildfire:the Village of Ferryville will create fire breaks around the Eagle Mountain development, and continue to promote removal of vegetation from around homes.