Sauk County remains on alert, with recent and predicted rains threatening to send the Baraboo River even higher than the major flood-stage levels it reached last week.
An estimated 7-8 inches fell Monday in the already saturated village of La Valle. With more rain predicted overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, Emergency Management Director Jeff Jelinek put out calls for help filling sandbags at the county highway shop in West Baraboo. Another call went out to help fill sandbags Tuesday at the city of Baraboo’s public works shop.
Jelinek said the Baraboo River is expected to rise half a foot higher than last week’s flood levels. In Rock Springs it’s estimated to hit 28.3 feet, up from 27.7 last week. It will crest there Thursday, and in Baraboo at 25.8 inches Friday. River levels are expected to fall just below records set in 2008.
Roads that reopened in recent days are closing again, including state Highway 33 between La Valle and Reedsburg. Highway 58 between La Valle and County Highway G also closed.
“It’s just like ‘Groundhog Day’ again,” Jelinek said.
On Tuesday he recalled damage assessment teams bound for La Valle and Reedsburg because traveling there was deemed too dangerous. So far, $4.7 million in damage has been reported to county homes, with more to come.
“The water’s so high in Rock Springs you can’t even tell,” Jelinek said. “I just feel so sorry for residents. We’re trying to do everything we can do for them.”
Assessing damage is a preliminary step toward verifying overall monetary loss and convincing President Donald Trump to declare a disaster. Teams were expected to visit Rock Springs and North Freedom on Wednesday, then Baraboo on Thursday. Flood victims are encouraged to photograph damage before beginning cleanup. If a disaster is declared, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will want photographic evidence of damage.
Jelinek said any residents who spot water approaching their homes should begin sandbagging immediately. “That shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody now,” he said.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the city of Baraboo issued a notice urging residents to leave sandbags in place as more rain falls. Citizens also are advised to move belongings from basements and low-lying yards, stay away from the fast-flowing river and wear protective boots and gloves when subjected to floodwaters that may carry contaminants.
Baraboo School District Administrator Lori Mueller sent a message to parents late Tuesday afternoon assuring them local schools are safe, and that Kobussen Buses will continue to serve North Freedom.
A donation center has opened at First Presbyterian Church in Reedsburg, where residents and can drop off and pick up items such as food, clothing and personal care products.
Over the weekend, the Original Wisconsin Ducks sent a crew to rescue a resident whose home near Highways 33 and U near Baraboo. A decade ago, the Ducks rescued 200 people as the Baraboo River flooded.