Crawford County Sheriff Updates On Floods

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Crawford County Sheriff Updates On Floods

Premiere Date: 
June 27, 2013

Dale McCullick updates on the floods in southwest Wisconsin this week.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Frederica Freyberg:

But first clean-up continues in soggy southwest Wisconsin even as more rain comes for the weekend. The area is no stranger to the destructive powers of rising waters. Following the 2008 flood, we got to know a Gays Mills woman who swore she'd move to higher ground before going through another flood. This week Zac Schultz caught up with her.

Zac Schultz:

For much of the state, Gays Mills is known for two things, apples and flooding. The apples come in the fall, but the flooding is here now. Areas of the Kickapoo Valley region have had more than a foot of rain in the last week and all that water will eventually flow downstream and across main street in Gays Mills. The worst flooding was Sunday.

Lorraine Fortney:

The main street of Gays Mills got about two-thirds covered with water, so it wasn't as bad as '07 or '08, but it was bad enough.

That's how deep the water was.

Zac Schultz:

Lorraine Fortney is something of an expert on Gays Mills flooding.

Lorraine Fortney:

I've lived with this my whole life.

Zac Schultz:

The historical photos match Lorraine's memories of childhood.

Lorraine Fortney:

Every spring we would build a raft so we could sail uptown to get groceries to bring home. So it was just an ongoing thing like that. We didn't know it could be better.

Zac Schultz:

We first met Lorraine in the aftermath of the 2007 and 2008 floods.

Lorraine Fortney:

We had to sit on the doorstep and ease ourselves down into the water because all the steps were gone, and it was four feet deep out here.

Zac Schultz:

At the time, Lorraine decided she was done with floods.

Lorraine Fortney:

I'm not willing to live my whole life doing this.

Man:

Hello?

Zac Schultz:

Fortunately, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was able to help hers and others find higher ground by offering to buy her out.

Lorraine Fortney:

The option was to take the buyout and move, or stay where you were and elevate with that money.

Zac Schultz:

Lorraine did her own elevating, moving to the top of a new subdivision in town, where she can see the flooded Kickapoo from a safer distance.

Lorraine Fortney:

And that's why I chose to go as high on that hill as I could get.  

Zac Schultz:

Lorraine's old house is gone, but her sister stayed in the same neighborhood, elevating their house by four feet. But at 4:00 A.M. Sunday morning, the water was too high.

Lorraine Fortney:

They decided that they had to evacuate the town, and so then I knew my sisters would be calling, and that's how it went. I kept my tongue silent and just welcomed them in.

Zac Schultz:

She knows it won't be the last time, because it's not a matter of if the Kickapoo will flood again.

Lorraine Fortney:

It's when, because it will happen. It always does.  

Frederica Freyberg:

Flood warnings continue near several Wisconsin rivers, even as clean-up in affected communities continues. By Tuesday Grant County had reported a total of $5 million in damages, a soaked Crawford County reports $4 million of infrastructure damage, and $340,000 worth of damage to homes. Governor Scott Walker has declared a state of emergency in seven counties. The incident commander in Crawford County is Sheriff Dale McCullick, who joins us now on the phone. And, Sheriff, thanks for doing so.

Dale McCullick:

Oh, no problem. Thank you for calling. 

Frederica Freyberg:

What are you watching over at this moment?

Dale McCullick:

Right now, the waters have receded in the Kickapoo River, which is a good thing. We still have a lot of landslides. We have two major roads that are closed, Highway 35 and Highway 60/61.

Frederica Freyberg:

How difficult are those road closures as a result of the landslide making not just travel, but kind of emergency response in the county?

Dale McCullick:

Well, it's very difficult. We had to kind of change who gets called out to what. You know, down here everybody's a volunteer, and they have boundaries, so if there was a call that normally maybe the city of Boscobel would have taken, now maybe Soldiers Grove is going to have to take because they can actually get there faster without going through the route.

Frederica Freyberg:

How does this kind of damage and the water, soaking high water that you've seen, compare to previous events?

Dale McCullick:

This– in 2007, 2008 we had very high water, as high as I've ever seen it. And this year the water didn't come up as much, but I’ve never seen the landslides like this. We always had small, little landslides. I don't know if your viewers are really aware of Crawford County, but our terrain is all hills and valleys. There’s very few flat spots, so roads are build along hills. We always have a few minor landslides. But this time the ground is just so saturated, it couldn't handle any more of the water and it just gave way.

Frederica Freyberg:

Are you expecting rain more way out your way?

Dale McCullick:

The funny thing is is just prior to you calling it was sprinkling out. Now it's stopped, and I can see a little bit of blue skies. But the forecast is kind of that. It's a hit-and-miss type forecast. It could rain, maybe not. We're hoping the not, obviously.

Frederica Freyberg:

Very much so. Sheriff, thank you very much for joining us and good luck with that out in Crawford County.

Dale McCullick:

Thank you. 


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