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Lake communities brace for potential flooding

Posted at 8:16 PM, Aug 22, 2018

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Emergency managers have urged communities along a chain of lakes in southern Wisconsin to be prepared for flooding, while others in the region worked to recover from a deluge of rain this week that washed out roads, swamped homes and led to one death.

Dane County Emergency Management said Wednesday that water levels on the Yahara Lakes have been steadily increasing over the past 24 hours. The levels are expected to continue to rise downstream of Lake Mendota, possibly rising another 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 centimeters) over the next day in places along Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa and Lake Kegonsa.

Officials say Monona and Dunn may experience flooding in the coming days. The county was sending hundreds of sandbags and a sandbagging machine to the area.

Gov. Scott Walker surveyed the flooded areas from the air on Wednesday, a day after declaring a state of emergency in flood-stricken Dane County. Walker said the state was ready to assist in recovery efforts.

"I have no doubt the resiliency of Wisconsin communities will be on display during this response," Walker said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan sent a letter Tuesday to President Donald Trump, asking him to provide federal assistance for flood recovery efforts if Walker seeks a federal disaster declaration.

Meanwhile, residents of a small village that straddles Dane and Green counties worked into the night Tuesday to protect their properties from flood water. They filled sandbags as the swelling Sugar River overflowed in Belleville. About nine families were evacuated on the east side of the community, and the bridge over Highway 69 temporarily closed, said village spokesman Terry Kringle.

Searchers on Tuesday recovered the body of a man who was wrenched away from would-be rescuers during flash flooding that forced evacuations around Madison and cut power to thousands of homes. The Dane County Medical Examiner's office later identified the man as 70-year-old James A. Sewell of Madison. Preliminary autopsy reports confirmed the cause of death was accidental drowning.

More than 11 inches (28 centimeters) of rain fell overnight Monday in places in or around Madison, according to the National Weather Service.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the United Way had taken nearly 600 individual reports of private property damage in Dane County, according to a county news release.