Viola relocating residents and businesses out of floodplain

Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 5:37 PM CDT
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VIOLA, Wis. (WEAU) - The Village of Viola is working to get residents and businesses out of the path of the Kickapoo River.

Viola has dealt with major flooding events for decades, which damage houses and businesses on a consistent basis.

Village President Daren Matthes says a significant flood four years ago caused Viola to start thinking about self-preservation.

“After the 2018 flood, the biggest flood we’ve ever had in history here in the village, something had to be done,” Matthes recalled. “Things needed to start moving, and it was time to develop a plan to move the village and get it away from the river so we can sustain and keep moving forward.”

Following years of planning, construction is now underway on a housing development on the south end of the village, away from the Kickapoo.

Two new apartment complexes are being built, and a new gas station is also planned for the site.

Matthes wants to provide as many housing options as possible for those who want to get out of the floodplain.

“This is phase one that we’re looking at right now, phase two is up on the skyline all the way around for more housing up there,” Matthes detailed. “Hopefully, as well as things are moving, by next year we’ll start into the planning stage of doing that, and within a year or two have more building lots available up there.”

The USDA has helped Viola with its relocation plan through multiple grants totaling more than $3 million.

Rural Development Director for Wisconsin Julie Lassa is hoping to ensure a future for the village and its residents.

“It’s important for USDA Rural Development to really partner with our communities to help build that resiliency, and have those thriving, vibrant communities that rural residents want, and help them build that type of economy,” Lassa expressed.

The apartment complexes are expected to be completed this summer, and Matthes says there’s already a long list of people wanting to move in when they’re ready.

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