Sand and empty sandbags are available at the Sauk County Highway Garage in West Baraboo for residents to take to prep their homes for heavy rain in the forecast.

As heavy rain and strong storms are expected to affect the area, Sauk County is offering residents sand and bags.

The National Weather Services issued a severe thunderstorm watch in Sauk County until 10 p.m. Wednesday, and expects the storms to continue until late tonight. The Weather Service said residents in the watch area can expect heavy rainfall, high wind gusts with possible hail and flash floods.

Sauk County offers empty sandbags and sand for residents to pick up, to use to prepare their homes for any flooding that may occur during the storms. The bags can be picked up at the West Baraboo garage, 614 Highway 136 in West Baraboo.

Sauk County Emergency Management Director Jeff Jelinek said people who have experienced flooding in their homes previously should take advantage of the free sandbags to prevent any flooding during the coming storms.

“A lot of homeowners don’t have sand or bags available, so we try to make it available for them,” said Jelinek. “We’re worried right now about flash flooding, the time to prepare is now.”

Jelinek recommends homeowners ensure that items are elevated off floors in areas of homes that flood, but said sandbagging is the most effective way to prevent damage to property, as they can provide a barrier between the property and rising water.

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Jelinek recommends placing sandbags in areas known to receive water, although all homes can vary. Common areas where water seeps through are doorways, windowsills or walk-out basements.

He also recommends Sauk County residents register for Nixle, a system officials use to communicate in times of emergency that also provides weather warnings.

“This is the first place we go to get the information out,” said Jelinek. “I would encourage everyone to sign up."

To register, residents can text their ZIP code to 888777 to automatically receive updates or communications from county officials.

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