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La Crosse warden describes ‘frightening,’ ‘surreal’ conditions during search-and-rescue efforts



So many stories about dramatic rescues in difficult conditions during the flooding this week in western Wisconsin.

La Crosse DNR Warden Ed McCann was a part of a few of those stories. He and fellow Warden Shawna Stringham were among those tapped to free people from their homes as waters rapidly rose during flash flooding on Tuesday.

“It was frightening,” McCann said. “I think that’s probably the best word. It was very … we both said to ourselves that this is actually a very frightening experience but we knew we had to go in there and find these people that were stuck in their houses.”

McCann and company fought the wind and rain, and a current that threatened to topple their boat, while floating over the top of fire hydrants and fences and stop signs.

“I think the most surreal moment was, in the evening we went to Viola,” McCann said. “The vehicles under the water, you could see the headlights or the interiors of the vehicles.

“The lights came on because they must have shorted out somehow. And you could see the lights glowing under the water aas we were drifting down the main drag.”

McCann credits volunteer firefighters in La Farge and Viola for helping to guide the warden duo and their flat bottom boat in the waters over the streets of both places to rescue those trapped by the floods.

McCann and Stringham managed to rescue several people who were otherwise trapped by rapidly rising waters in LaFarge and Viola.

Those two were just some of the many who helped in search and rescue operations this week.

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