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Tuesday - August 28, 2018 7:47 pm

Red Cross opens shelter at Wesby High for flood victims Featured

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PHOTO: La Farge Police Dept. PHOTO: La Farge Police Dept.

Help is coming to those most impacted by floods in western Wisconsin both locally and from the state.

The Red Cross has set up shelters, including at Westby High School, which opened at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Other shelters are in place in Juneau County.

The Red Cross has also been on the ground in the village of Coon Valley. As has the Salvation Army. And Kwik Trip, feeding meals to residents after a flooding sock to the gut this week. 

Nothing wrong with you wanting to help, too. And there will be plenty of opportunity to do that, Justin Kern with the Red Cross in Wisconsin said.

But, right now, his agency is still evaluating what is needed by the communities most impacted, though the Coon Valley Fire Dept. said anyone that wants to help with cleanup to meet at the Coon Valley Post Office at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

When it comes to donations, however, for now, says Kern, don't go baking any casseroles.

"It's just the Wisconsin way to just dive in and want to help so I'd say, right now, from the Red Cross perspective, we're OK," Kern said. "I think the thing is to look out for your neighbors and have that situational awareness."

The Red Cross will have cots, water and food available at the shelter. 

The heavy rains that pounded Wisconsin and Minnesota prompted evacuation orders for about 100 residents in Coon Valley.

The storms Monday night also caused power outages to about 2,200 customers in La Crosse, according to Xcel Energy, but that number was down to fewer than 1,000 by late Tuesday afternoon.

At the outage’s peak, 22,500 Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota and Wisconsin were without power. Meanwhile, in southeast Minnesota, powerful winds downed trees and power lines. No injuries have been reported, but emergency responders cleaning up debris and assessing damage are bracing for another round of storms that the National Weather Service said could drop as much as 5 inches of rain in the region Tuesday night into Wednesday.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency in six counties, including Fond du Lac, Juneau, La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon and Washington. The declaration is the first step toward requesting federal assistance.

“The same general area is expected to see very heavy rain over the next six to 12 hours, so we anticipate some additional flooding concerns,” said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the weather service in College Park, Maryland.

La Crosse, Vernon and Monroe counties have already been particularly hard hit with 5 to 11 inches of rain. In Coon Valley, a town of about 765 people just southeast of La Crosse, emergency responders helped residents evacuate Monday night and into Tuesday morning. People also were evacuated in the villages of La Farge and Readstown on Tuesday, bringing the number of evacuations close to 120, Vernon County spokeswoman Linda Nederlo said. In Vernon County, nearly 40 roads were closed.

In central Wisconsin, the National Weather Service reported possible tornado damage in a swath extending from southern Marquette County across Green Lake County and into Fond du Lac County. Storms knocked down trees and power lines in that area Tuesday afternoon. Meteorologist J.J. Wood with the Sullivan National Weather Service said he was not aware of any injuries. The Weather Service will send a survey team to confirm if the damage was caused by a tornado.

The overnight storms largely missed Madison, which is still recovering from last week’s storm and flooding. Emergency officials in the capital city were preparing for another round of flooding Tuesday into Wednesday as more storms moved through the area, however. Walker declared a state of emergency in Dane County last week.

In southeastern Minnesota, flash flooding was reported after Houston County received more than 5 inches of rain, the Star Tribune reported. Como Falls was washed out.

In Red Wing, Minnesota, a city council meeting was delayed Monday night because of heavy rains that had people taking cover in the basement. At the Red Wing Regional Airport, the National Weather Service said wind gusts that reached 82 mph damaged a hangar.

Rain was also heavy enough in the Twin Cities to force rides and stages at the Minnesota State Fair to be evacuated. Fair spokeswoman Danielle Dullinger said people were directed to five weather shelters on the fairgrounds.

Last modified on Wednesday - August 29, 2018 7:26 am
Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds is the News Director at Midwest Family Broadcasting. He covers the internecine agonies of La Crosse city hall. He really likes basketball.

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