The town of Roxbury will soon hold a joint meeting with the town of West Point to initiate a coordinated effort to combat flooding in both areas.
The Oct. 7 Roxbury Town Board meeting was the same day as a public discussion with officials from both towns, the state legislature, local counties and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to explore potential solutions for rising water levels preventing residents access to their homes and flooding others.
Earlier in the day, West Point followed Roxbury in declaring a state of emergency to expedite the process of finding a solution to flooding. Roxbury declared a state of emergency Sept. 16.
In the past, Fish Lake Road in Roxbury has often seen water pool across it following rainfall, making navigating the area difficult or impossible. The board estimated three to four inches of water ran over the road at the time of their July 1 meeting. More recently, they estimated seven inches of rainfall, worsening the situation.
One section of Schoepp Road, where West Point has had severe flooding, was sandbagged earlier that evening.
In both towns, locals are struggling with access to residences and businesses. Emergency services are actively evaluating which vehicles are actually able to navigate the terrain to respond to potential emergencies there.
West Point Town Chairman Ashley Nedeau-Owen attended the meeting. He said coordination with Roxbury would be important so efforts to move water in one town do not worsen the situation in the other.
The current plan of action is to hold a joint meeting with West Point in the near future to put together a plan for constructing a tube to transport water from the flooded areas out to the Wisconsin River, providing relief to affected residents and businesses.
“We’ve got to have access to our residents, we’re required by statutes to provide that,” Nedeau-Owen said. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to provide access to those residents… already, the ambulance can’t make it there.”
The consensus at the meeting was any multilateral effort to fight the flooding would need to start at the local level.
“What this needs is a champion and it needs somebody to say ‘this is what we’re going to do,’” said MSA Senior Project Manager Charles Bongard. “I somehow don’t see the state being that entity.”
Roxbury Town Board Member Nick Ganser suggested a joint meeting and Nedeau-Owen said he would speak with the West Point town board at their Oct. 10 meeting.
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“Engineering is going to have to lead this effort, I think,” said Roxbury Town Board Member Mike Bradley said. “(They’ll) have to be the one that gives us the solution and everything on this one.”
Bongard said with the current information available, a preliminary route for a tube to transport the water could be determined.
“The goal, in my mind, would be to leverage for every possible grant funding opportunity,” Bongard said.
Bongard said a tube using gravity to transport water would be a more cost effective solution than pumping, which the DNR estimates would cost a minimum of $4 million.
“We’ve got to work together on this,” Nedeau-Owen said.
Sanitary District Commission Gail Lamberty praised Town Road Patrolman Dave Nelson for his work helping allow the transport of flood water out of town.
“We had serious, serious, serious problems with the rain this week,” Lamberty said. “The pumps couldn’t keep up.”
A 5,000 gallon capacity truck was called to pump water out of the local manholes, but the truck had difficulty driving the water away because of the road closures from the flooding.
Lamberty called Nelson to have a closed bridge temporarily reopened so the truck could get out of town, and Nelson did.
“I’m here tonight to commend Dave and to thank him,” Lamberty said. “I think you need to know what a good job he did.”
Nelson was applauded by the crowd in attendance at the meeting.