Mayor: More Wisconsin flooding could force hundreds to flee
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Authorities in Wisconsin's water-logged capital city warned residents Friday that they may need to head for higher ground to escape another round of flooding as more storms headed toward the area.
Madison and the rest of surrounding Dane County are struggling to recover after torrential storms settled over the area on Monday night, dumping more than 11 inches of rain in some areas.
The deluge flooded streets, causing power outages and sending cars floating away. A 70-year-old Madison man was killed when he got out of his car and was swept underwater by the current.
Outlying municipalities in the county were hardest hit, with brown water as high as truck cabs filling streets. Preliminary estimates put the damage at $108 million, countywide.
The rain has caused long-lasting problems on Madison's isthmus, a narrow strip of land that runs between lakes Mendota and Monona and is home to the Capitol building and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The rain has driven both lakes to historic levels, Mayor Paul Soglin said at a news conference Friday. City workers have been trying to release water from Lake Mendota through a lock-and-dam into Lake Monona and the Yahara River, but low-lying streets remained flooded as of Friday afternoon. Soglin predicted commuters will struggle with road closures for days and urged people to work from home through Wednesday.
National Weather Service forecasts called for showers and thunderstorms to dump between a quarter-inch and half-inch of rain in the area on Friday night. Sunday night could bring the same amount.
Soglin said 5 inches of rain or more would force mass evacuations around the lakes. Two to 3 inches of rain would likely result in isolated evacuations, the mayor said.
About a dozen Wisconsin National Guard troops as well as Wisconsin prison inmates worked Friday to fill sandbags, Soglin said. City crews still spent the day taping flyers on the doors of some 1,700 homes warning that the houses are in danger of flooding and residents should be prepared if told to evacuate, the mayor said.
He also warned residents to move important items out of their basements and stop buying perishable food for the next few days in case they lose power and can't refrigerate it.