Western Wisconsin flooding damage to be assessed by FEMA

By: Amelia Cerling Email
By: Amelia Cerling Email

Last month, floods devastated many towns in western Wisconsin, on Tuesday FEMA specialists made the first step towards assessing the damage.

A Tuesday afternoon meeting brought together state and local leaders with FEMA representatives. Tuesday was about organizing, on Wednesday and Thursday FEMA representatives will go out to affected areas in seven Western Wisconsin counties to see if the area can qualify for federal assistance.

“We had a series of storms beginning August 10 approximately going through August 14, in some cases, I think Pierce County said the storm came and just sat over the county and rained and it rained something like 8-10 inches over a very short period of time,” Lois Ristow, the West Central Regional Director for Wisconsin Emergency Management says.

From Ellsworth in Pierce County to Cream in rural Buffalo County the rains washed away bridges, roads and flooded basements across Western Wisconsin.

“Some of the people that could least afford the damages, probably got hit the hardest,” Gary Brown, the Emergency Management Director for Pierce County says.

And that's where FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency steps in. Local counties including Dunn, Jackson, Polk, Vernon, Buffalo, St. Croix and Pierce counties are applying for public assistance.

“We look for several different things in this case the counties are applying for public assistance which looks at the infrastructure of a city and try to rebuild that, we're talking about roads, bridges, things of that nature,” Jamilah Fraser, a FEMA spokesperson says.

Ristow says hopefully FEMA will recommend the area for assistance, because she says cleaning up storm damage can be a huge burden for local governments.

“For example a small township might have a yearly budget for road repairs of something in the neighborhood of $10,000 and you get a huge storm like this you have to replace 2,3 culverts, they could easily spend their entire years budget just on that one storm,” Ristow says.

Tuesday several FEMA teams will head out to the seven counties to survey damage. It should take about a week before they finalize their assessments.

If the area is granted federal assistance, federal funds will pay for 75 percent of the total damages.

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