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Communities take flooding precautions

Published On: Apr 09 2013 07:25:10 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 09 2013 07:20:34 PM CDT
Bark River Road in Fort Atkinson

Bark River Road in Fort Atkinson

FORT ATKINSON, Wis. -

More rain is on the radar, putting it on the radar of a number of emergency management directors.

Southwestern Wisconsin is under a flood watch until 7 p.m. Thursday.  A flood Watch is in effect for south-central and southeastern Wisconsin until noon Friday.

The threat of flooding was far from Barry Von Gulner’s mind Tuesday afternoon.  The rising Rock River meant a better chance of catching walleye.

“It makes for good fishing.  A little tough since the current's so strong,” Von Gulner said.

While Von Gulner is fine with getting wet while fishing, he knows the weather can make things difficult in Jefferson County.  It's an area that was virtually covered in water from flooding in 2008, so there’s one thing for certain when it comes to the rainy forecast.

“That's going to bring it up.  That's going to bring it up for sure,” Von Gulner said.

Bark River Road was the only street closed in the county Tuesday, but with 1 to 3 inches possibly soaking the state this week, emergency management director Donna Haugom would rather be prepared for the worst.

“Mother Nature is flexing her muscles today, and probably for the remainder of this week,” Haugom said.  “So we'll just probably deal with it as it comes.  And a lot of the people who have experienced flooding have experienced it before and they understand the ramifications of the flood and what it might do to affect them, so I think they're pretty smart about what they're doing, too.”

Jefferson County has sandbags available to residents.  Haugom said people can pick them up through their municipalities.

“We're hitting moderate flooding right now throughout the county,” Haugom said.  “So there might be some lower-lying areas that might have smaller amounts of water going across it, but I don't anticipate large amounts at this point in time.”

In Columbia County, part of Interstate 39 neat Portage was shut down for flooding. 

Patrick Beghin, the emergency management director for Columbia County, said levees protecting homes and businesses from floods are in good shape at the Wisconsin River’s current level.  He said he will be watching the weather to make sure the situation stays that way.

Beghin added the snowpacks north of Columbia County could have an impact on the flooding potential there.  If the steady rain keeps up and temperatures spike to spring levels at the same time, Beghin said the sudden meltdown could be a problem.

The later in the season we go without that snowpack melting significantly and moving downstream, the greater potential we have for problem.

Haugom said ice on the lakes can be an issue as well, since that can restrict the flow of any extra water.  Also, the frozen ground doesn’t absorb the rainfall as readily as the typical thawed-out soil.

Rock County was put under a flood warning Tuesday, with particular attention to the Rock River in Newville and Afton, Avon and Sugar River Park.  The county is making sandbags available to residents.

Sandbags are also available at the following locations:

Columbia County – Columbia County Highway Department, 303 Old Highway 16 in West Wyocena.

Jefferson County – handed out by municipality. Contact your city or town for information.

Sauk County - West Baraboo Garage, Hwy. 136 in West Baraboo

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