Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan, D-02, had originally scheduled to visit Reedsburg in late August to tour the library and visit the Boys and Girls Club but when flooding hit the area decided to postpone the trip.
He returned to Reedsburg Sept. 19 for the tour, getting an overview of the programs and services both organizations offer the community. While he had visited the library for town halls, he didn’t have a chance to see the programs and services it offers. It was also his first time visiting the Boys and Girls Club in Reedsburg.
“We like to always know what is going in the communities and see where we can be helpful,” Pocan said.
But it wasn’t only to check in on how the community is doing, but also to provide an update on possible federal flood relief. Even though both facilities were not damaged, staff members at both facilities shared on how they handled the flood. The Reedsburg library is helping both La Valle and Rock Springs libraries by temporary holding and managing items for its users.
He said he has talked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency about possible assistance, making sure the state didn’t miss a deadline for filing for federal assistance and keeping track of reports in each community in his district when the flood was in the area.
Total estimated damage assessments submitted by the state has totaled $232 million—including $108 million in local damage assessments, $49 million in business assessments and $75 million to public infrastructure.
Pocan said he is scheduled to talk with the Federal Emergency Management Agency Sept. 20 to iron out additional details about preliminary damage assessments. The agency is scheduled to conduct preliminary damage assessments the week of Sept. 24 in 17 counties, including Columbia, Juneau and Sauk County, to inspect flood damage from the outside of people’s homes and will take about a week to complete, according to a Sept. 18 press release from Gov. Scott Walker’s website.
“They won’t go into people’s homes per say but they are going to the various communities to find out what happened,” he said.
Pocan said a lot of assistance will depend of structural damage to houses and public infrastructure.
“Right now, I think everyone from the state to the federal officials, we are all kind of working well together to try to see what we can get,” Pocan said.
While at the Reedsburg Public Library, Pocan toured the library to see what it offers to the community in terms of providing community programs for all age groups, including its reading material from print to audio books and technology aspects like computer and internet access. Internet access is something Pocan said Reedsburg residents “are a little spoiled with” and is a component that most people in his district are missing.
He said Madison and Reedsburg and northwest South County have pretty good access to internet and broadband, however it’s a component a lot of communities in the second congressional district still don’t have.
“Libraries are often the place where people who might be a little more in those rural areas can still come utilize that technology,” he said. “I think that is another really nice approach to the library.”
Some other big issues he mentioned facing his district include access to healthcare, high cost of prescription drugs and wages being “kind of flat” despite an increasing economy. On the topic of investing in infrastructure, he blamed Republicans for not getting the job done.
“President (Trump) talked about $1 trillion investment in infrastructure, so have Democrats, you think you’d get something done,” Pocan said. “But part of the problem is a lot of Republicans in Congress haven’t wanted to spend the money, so they’ve had an 80/20 split-which 80 percent of the money had to come from the private sector or local governments-and there’s not that kind of money there. We need to do that so we can deal with all of the infrastructure needs.”