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With the Baraboo River water levels rising in the Reedsburg area, the city is preparing for what could come. 

With torrential rainfall and flash flooding the past two days, the National Weather Service reported the Baraboo River has risen to 18.24 feet in Reedsburg, the second highest level ever recorded. It reached 21 feet in the historic 2008 flood. Major flood stage is at 18 feet.

More water is moving toward the city, as upriver in La Valle, the gauge there reached a record 25.2 feet, 2 feet higher than the previous record set in 2008. Major flood stage in La Valle starts at 19 feet.

Reedsburg Mayor David Estes declared a local emergency Aug. 29.

“Basically, the mayor is asking everybody that if you don’t have to move anywhere today, don’t go,” said city administrator Stephen Compton. “Stay in your home.”

Compton said floodwater is mainly affecting the western side of Reedsburg. Highway 33 west of Reedsburg, as well as Granite and Webb avenues are closed.

Compton said no evacuations have been ordered, but a Red Cross emergency center has been set up to help families affected by the flooding. The Red Cross Center is located at Reedsburg Area High School on South Albert Avenue.

Amber White, a Reedsburg resident who lives on the west side on the corner of Main and James streets, said she went to stay at a friend’s house by the high school so she didn’t know the extent of the damage at her house.

“I don’t think it made it to the top floor, but I think the basement is most likely full of water,” White said, adding it was devastating to see the flood waters the morning of Aug. 29.

Parks and Recreation Director Matt Scott took charge of sandbagging efforts, coordinating volunteers, making sure sandbags are filled and helping distribute them to people in need around the community. There were two run by the city, at Reedsburg Area High School and the RACA building by Nishan Park. Other local sandbagging efforts were organized at Quillins Quality Foods and Community First Bank.

“As long as the river keeps rising we are going to keep sandbagging operations going,” Scott said.

The School District of Reedsburg canceled its in-service activities to prepare for the upcoming school year to encourage teachers to help in the community and take care of efforts at home if flooding was an issue.

“The directions were to take care of your family or home and then the community and help out in the community if you can,” said Reedsburg Area High School Associate Principal Matt Terry.

About 50 people helped fill sandbags at the high school Aug. 29. David Moon, a Reedsburg resident who also sits on the city council, volunteered to fill the bags.

“It’s heartbreaking to see where you grew up under water,” Moon said.

The number of people who came to help surprised Cody Bell, who helped organize sandbagging efforts at the high school.

“I don’t know a lot of these people but a lot of the community is here to support people today,” said Bell, who works for the city.

Compton said the city is keeping an eye on the Baraboo River, with public works and police department analyzing the river gauge every hour and taking manual records on the bridge at Main Street. He said the city is also keeping a close watch on the water levels in La Valle.

“Slowly it’s adjusting,” Compton said. “But you don’t know where the waters are still traveling from; we can only guesstimate from the river gauges.”

Compton said the city also is keeping an eye on water levels in Rocks Springs, which were recorded at 17.8 feet as of noon Aug. 29 and forecasted to rise to major flood stage at 23 feet by Aug. 31, according to the National Weather Service. Compton estimated waters could continue to rise until 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. tonight “because of the water we see.”

Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.