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Marquette County Flood Damage (copy)

As waters rose throughout Marquette County, neighbors were cut off from downtown Packwaukee when Buffalo Lake overtook a section of County Highway D, with residents wading through and DNR staff inspecting the site on Sept. 4.

Authorities in Marquette County estimate there is millions of dollars in damage following the storms of Aug. 28 and resulting high water.

The Marquette County Economic Development and Tourism Department released a joint statement from authorities of Marquette County and the city of Montello Monday afternoon, giving an initial summary.

More than 150 buildings have been affected by floodwaters in Montello, with 13 families displaced, according to the release. Across Marquette County, more than $90,000 has been spent on road repair and brush removal, adding to nearly $1 million in property damage and $2 million in crop damage.

The destruction mostly began with a line of storms on Aug. 28, which included three EF1 tornadoes later verified by National Weather Service analysts surveying damage on the ground around Oxford, Endeavor and another near Green Lake County. This came in addition to straight line winds flattening swaths of forests and fields.

In the following weeks, county, school, and municipal leaders have met with representatives of the American Red Cross on a nearly daily basis in ongoing efforts of storm and flood damage mitigation, along with developing long-term recovery strategies.

As of Monday afternoon, Montello’s Main Street, State Highway 22, remained closed. Following ground saturation analysis, it is expected that the road will remain closed through the week or longer. Along State Highway 23 and the Montello River bridge, one lane has been opened to allow residential traffic for those who live along the road to reach their homes.

Montello Police Chief Rick Olson has asked that only residents drive on these roads and that no parking is allowed on the street. Commuters walking across Montello are asked not to block emergency access gates when parking vehicles.

“It is important for the public to understand that even if they no longer see water on top of the roads, that the ground underneath is still highly saturated,” said Marquette County Highway Commissioner Brian Tremiatowski. “While keeping roads closed will cause a short-term inconvenience, it will prevent major problems and long-term closures in the future.”

Marquette County Sheriff Kim Gaffney suggested that residents should probably leave sandbags in place, as any additional rain on the already saturated ground, could result in rising waters in short order. This came with the continuing warning to be cautious around lakes and rivers which are still under a slow, no wake order at Montello Lake, Buffalo Lake, Lake Puckaway and the Fox River.

“It is important to be respectful of the power of rivers,” said Gaffney. “Please stay away and do not make poor decisions.”

The start of school was delayed a week, so Monday morning Montello schools welcomed children to the first day of classes.

“We are dedicated to working together to get on our feet and return to normal,” said Montello Mayor Gary Doudna.

Follow Jonathan Stefonek on Twitter @StefonekNews or contact him at 608-745-3510

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