Michelle Musiel has lived in the same Mauston home for 23 years. That all changed with recent flooding.
The flood water breached their Maple Street home’s basement wall and rushed in, destroying everything below the first floor and jeopardizing the structural integrity of their house. Michelle’s husband, Scott, said the basement had eight feet of water.
Heavy rain in the spring is nothing new for the Musiels, who both work in Mauston. But they knew this time was different when Michelle’s daughter and her boyfriend, who lived with them, woke them up to alert them water was up to the second step of the front porch.
Scott went down to the basement to discover a “geyser of sewer coming up out of the discharge pipe for the washing machine.”
Not long after, they heard a loud crash outside. “I thought one of the trees fell on the house,” Scott Musiel said. He went outside and discovered it was instead the basement wall caving in. He saw a “river of water coming into the basement.”
The Musiels packed what they could and drove up to Necedah where they have a camper.
“Water was deeper than the tires of the truck,” Scott Musiel said.
When they came back the next day, it was clear the house was uninhabitable.
“Once we’d seen it, I knew right away,” Scott Musiel said. He had to add support in the basement to make sure it was safe to reenter the home on the first floor.
The house is valued at about $100,000. Cost for repair will be almost as much.
“It’s a little over $87,000, just for the basement,” Michelle Musiel said.
The gas is disconnected and the Musiels installed temporary electricity to keep the sump pump going.
“The water just kept coming in,” Scott Musiel said. “I had a pump there for almost a week because every time I came back there was another two or three feet of water in the basement.”
Salvation Army of Juneau County Manager Kathleen Engelman has worked with hundreds of people affected by the flooding.
“I have over 563 flood victims right now,” Engelman said. “There’s more that I’m not working with… This is the worst one in Mauston.”
The Musiels wish they had been notified by Juneau County Emergency Management when FEMA was touring houses on their street Sep. 25. FEMA was able to observe the front of the home, but could not enter the backyard and document the extensive damage there.
They don’t know when the next opportunity to speak with FEMA will come.
Although the Musiels have their camper in Necedah for now, the campground’s water will be shut off in November. They are unsure what will become of their home in Mauston, or where they will stay next.
“You don’t have any type of feeling, you’re numb,” Scott Musiel said. “How can you prepare yourself for something like this?”