Lake Altoona homeowners prepare for rising water levels

ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Following recent, heavy rainfall Governor Scott Walker has issued a state of emergency for 13 Wisconsin counties, including Eau Claire.

The large amount of rainfall the past few days has caused widespread flooding and created quite a bit of damage.

Clean-up efforts are now underway and Eau Claire County Emergency Services is asking those on Lake Altoona to take preventative measures.

Through a cooperative effort between the City of Altoona, Eau Claire County Parks and Forestry, as well as the highway department, sandbagging materials are being provided in two different locations near Lake Altoona.

“Hopefully everybody has enough material there and is going to work to prevent any possible flooding,” said Eau Claire Highway Commissioner John Johnson.

John Bemis and his neighbors live on the lake and are using the materials to hold back the rising water.

“We've done hundreds over there,” said Bemis pointing to his neighbor water logged yard. “We've been doing it for 3-4 hours.”

Bemis says the downstairs level of the home he lives in has water damage from the flooding, and with help from his neighbors, they’re trying to stop it from spreading further.

“I think we've got a handle on it,” said Bemis. “Now, it's just a matter of getting that room dried out now so no more water comes back through it.”

Levels on Lake Altoona are about two inches higher than normal and Johnson says it could continue to rise which is why the department is asking those around the lake to think about sandbagging.

“Flood elevations from all that rain water coming down the Eau Claire River is swelling as it comes towards Lake Altoona so there is still increased elevation possible,” explained Johnson.

The materials will be left out throughout this week and Johnson says they will be refilled as needed for those looking to safeguard their property.

“We really don't know what the impact is in terms of lake levels so if you're concerned a little bit the best thing is to be proactive and get some protection up around your property,” added Johnson.

Other local Wisconsin counties affected by the flooding include: Buffalo, Chippewa, Jackson and Trempealeau.

The state of emergency issued by Walker is meant to help local government pay for unreimbursed costs of damage and clean to public infrastructure.

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