Roads, bridges sustain $2.75 million in flood damage
Pierce and St. Croix county officials report that Aug. 10-11 flooding did almost $2.75 million worth of damage to public infrastructure in the two counties.
But the area-wide damage from that single "storm event" may not be enough to meet state and federal guidelines for disaster relief.
As of Aug. 20, public sector damage in Pierce County totaled $1,548,500, said Emergency Management Director Gary Brown.
He said so far $950,000 of private sector damage has been reported in Pierce County, although that number isn't used to determine need for a federal disaster declaration.
In a press release sent out Aug. 20, St. Croix Emergency Management reported that the heavy rains and subsequent flooding did $1.2 million in damage to public infrastructure in that county.
St. Croix officials said 160 residents have used the county's flood hotline to report damage to private property.
While most of the damage was to roads and bridges, public sector damage could also include damage to sewage and water systems and to government buildings or equipment as well as debris cleanup, said Brown.
The damage reports have been forwarded to the Wisconsin Division of Emergency Management as the counties attempt to apply for state and federal assistance. These assistance programs become available based on specific damage thresholds.
As of Aug. 20 state Emergency Management officials were reviewing the numbers to see if they were significant enough to have Gov. Jim Doyle request a federal disaster declaration, said Brown.
"We're kind of right at that criteria or very close to that," said Brown.
He said while there was damage in other areas of the state, the Aug. 10-11 storm hit Pierce, St. Croix and Buffalo counties hardest.
Most of Pierce County's damage was in the Rush River Valley area in the towns of Martell and El Paso, said Brown.
He said while the heaviest rain fell in the northern section of Pierce and southern St. Croix County, the water ran down the Rush River, doing damage as far downstream as Hwy. 35.
Brown described the flooding as "a rush of water continuing all the way down the river."
Low lying areas in other parts of the county, including those near River Falls and Eau Galle, also flooded.
"Spring Valley itself got hit pretty hard," said Brown.
The southeast corner of St. Croix County, including the village of Baldwin, was hardest hit by the heavy rains and flooding.
In St. Croix County, the American Red Cross has been on-site helping families and individuals, including 14 families displaced by flooding.
St. Croix urged anyone needing assistance to contact the Salvation Army at 715-247-2944.
Affected residents who have not yet reported damage are asked to call the St. Croix flood hotline at 888-305-3555.
Brown encouraged Pierce County homeowners who have not reported their damage to call his office at 715-273-6751.
While the federal disaster declaration would cover only public sector damage, there may be other programs that offer help to repair private property.
"A lot of this damage happened to people outside the flood plain," said Brown. "They didn't have flood insurance."