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Walker Requests Federal Disaster Aid To Help Counties Pay For Broken Water Mains

Estimated $25M In Damage Has Been Reported Across State

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Gov. Scott Walker at the St. Croix County Republican Party field office in Hudson on Tuesday. Photo: Rich Kremer/WPR News.

Gov. Scott Walker has requested federal disaster aid to help local governments offset costs related to broken water mains last winter.

Severe cold and record-breaking frost depths resulted in $11 million worth of damage in eight counties across the state, according to Wisconsin Emergency Management. Spokesman Tod Pritchard said that at the governor’s request, data has been submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to see if local governments qualify for FEMA aid.

“This is the first time Wisconsin has ever asked for a FEMA disaster declaration for a winter event, and it’s the first time any state has asked for any kind of a declaration for damage that was caused by an extreme winter for 20-plus years,” said Pritchard.

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Pritchard said that if FEMA approves the aid, then the state will ask more counties to do damage assessments to see if they could qualify for aid: “Other counties could be added to this as time goes by,” he said.

All told, $25 million in damage was reported in 69 counties.

In Clark County, the small city of Thorp was hit with $150,000 in extra costs due to broken pipes. Administrator Randy Reeg said the hit was catastrophic and could push back the installation of a new well.

“If this money doesn’t come through, that’s very much in jeopardy,” said Reeg. “But if we’re able to get some of this reimbursed, it’s possible we’ll still be able to move through with that project.”

Final word on whether FEMA approves the declaration isn’t expected for several weeks. No estimates on how much local governments might be reimbursed have been given.

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