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FEMA Assessing Flood Damages Across Northern Wisconsin

Governor Has Until August 10 To Apply For Federal Disaster Declaration

Courtesy of Bayfield County

Federal emergency management officials are working with local and state agencies this week to assess damage in northern Wisconsin caused by recent flooding.

The assessment is the first step in the state applying for federal aid, said Troy Christianson, Federal Emergency Management Agency .

“This is the first opportunity that FEMA has had to come out and not only look at some of those damages, but also verify a lot of those damages,” Christianson said.

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Many counties don’t have the budget to make repairs to infrastructure, which is why Tod Pritchard, of Wisconsin Emergency Management, said this process is so important.

“This is where the counties get to tell the state of Wisconsin and FEMA, ‘OK, this is how much damage we have, this is really what it’s going to cost to fix that,’” Pritchard said.

Many counties are facing repair bills in excess of what they would normally spend on road work in one year, Pritchard said. The damage across the area is estimated to be about $38 million.

The estimate doesn’t include damage to personal property.

Pritchard said he expects a final report to be delivered to Gov. Scott Walker within the next two weeks. Walker will then decide whether to apply for a federal disaster declaration.

Gov. Scott Walker has until August 10 to apply for a federal disaster declaration. A declaration opens the door for northern counties to receive federal funds to help with repairs.

Meanwhile, county officials are beginning to tally the damage to private property. Pat Sanchez of Sawyer County said some damage to homes is only being discovered now.

“When the citizens are cleaning out their basements, they are finding out they have structural damage,” Sanchez said. “Once they got some of the stuff cleaned out, there’s still water pouring into basements of some of these people.”

The county has no official estimate yet on private property damage, Sanchez said. Damage to foundations is a primary concern because groundwater levels are high in the area. County officials said they’ll work with residents to ensure they can afford to fix their homes and keep them safe.

Correction: An earlier version of this story neglected to state Gov. Scott Walker must apply for the federal disaster declaration. The story has been updated to reflect this fact.

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