FOX47 NEWS - Flooding, One Year Ago

Jeff Angileri
Jun 7, 2009, 6:21 PM

A year ago Sunday, the first wave of flooding rains poured down across southern Wisconsin. A week later, some parts of the area were under more than a foot of water, in what became Wisconsin's worst natural disaster.

Lake Delton, where homes ripped from the lake shore and washed down the Wisconsin River, will likely be remembered as ground zero. But no matter where you traveled in southern Wisconsin last June, you found water-logged devastation.

In Baraboo, neighborhoods turned into swamps. Whole villages washed away, like Gays Mills.

In Rock Springs, street signs, but no signs of streets. In Spring Green -- the unthinkable -- people abandoning their homes.

Volunteers showed up with boats and started to help people get some stuff out of their homes, said Gene Dischler of Spring Green.

The river crested in Reedsburg, sending people to shelters. Business owners in Columbus found themselves fighting a wall of water. In Newville, sandbagging became a 24/7 job.

Not even larger cities were spared the inundation. With the Rock River raging, downtown Janesville was under water.

Some of these families -- I haven't seen them since, said Dischler. Some of them lost everything they had in their homes. Some have double mortgages. Some are paying rent and a mortgage, their taxes, insurance.

The numbers alone are staggering -- $765 million dollars in damage, 700,000 sandbags used, 31 counties declared disaster areas, Wisconsin's fertile cropland drowned.

It was tough. Dischler said. You could never know unless you went through it. You could never imagine how something could come in such a short period of time and destroy everything you had.

The town of Spring Green is getting $4 million from FEMA to buy and remove 28 homes from the flooded areas. FEMA is expected to approve more buy-outs this summer.

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