Reedsburg officials see no concern with Baraboo River water levels

October 12, 2018

Despite recent rainfall, Sauk County officials are not concerned about any major flooding with the Baraboo River.

Flood levels remain in the minor stages for Reedsburg, Rock Springs and La Valle. The National Weather Service recorded the Baraboo River levels at La Valle had climbed to 11.53 feet the morning of Oct. 11, four feet below the flood stage of 15 feet, but have started to slowly decline. In Reedsburg, river levels have hit 13.82 feet, close to the 14 foot flood stage recorded as minor flooding for the area. Rock Springs recorded levels have fallen slightly to 18.72 feet at 4 p.m. Oct. 11 but is predicted to rise to slightly over 20 feet Oct. 13, remaining 0.5 feet below the moderate flood stage before dropping sometime after the weekend.

“The water (at the Baraboo River) is going to come up a little bit more but not a thing that should create issues for anyone,” said Jeff Jelinek, emergency management director for Sauk County. He said officials still continue to monitor the Baraboo River.

Jelinek said the main concern at the moment is the Wisconsin River, including homes along Levee Road in Sauk County which start experiencing water issues at about 19.4 feet.

“We have a part of a sand levee berm system there, so the DNR will be coming up starting (Oct. 12) and monitoring it twice a day just to make sure it keeps structural integrity,” he said.

The National Weather Service recorded the Wisconsin River at Portage at 16.73 feet at 4 p.m. Oct. 11 and is predicted to raise to the moderate stage level of 18.5 feet at mid-day Oct. 13 before dropping.

Compared to the floods that hit the area in late summer and early fall

Jelinek said the damage to homes won’t be as significant compared to the floods that hit the area in August and September, but only time will tell on that factor.

“We won’t have the magnitude of homes by any means but we could definitely have some homes if it stays at the forecasted level. We’ll have some homes that are going to get water,” he said.

Reedsburg Chief of Police Tim Becker, who is acting as city administrator while Stephen Compton is out of state on vacation, said filled sandbags are available at Nishan Park for those who would need to use them. However, he said there isn’t any major concern with the Baraboo River, especially with minimal rainfall predicted over the next week.

“We don’t anticipate any flooding issues certainly not like we’ve had in the past month or so,” Becker said. “We suspect the waters would expect to go down as we finally get a break from this rain.”

Flood levels in late August and early September had the Baraboo River at 21.85 feet in Reedsburg slightly above record flood levels set in 2008. La Valle and Rock Springs had levels recorded at 25 and 27 feet, respectively. Gov. Scott Walker sent a letter to President Donald Trump Oct. 4 requesting a federal disaster declaration for 18 counties from the severe flooding and storms that impacted the state from Aug. 17 through Sept. 14.

Jelinek said the county reported $10 million in home damage and estimates damage to public infrastructure damage is about $6-7 million. He said any word on federal assistance from FEMA is “up in the air.” Other recent disasters like Hurricane Michael could slow down the process of receiving federal dollars. If aid does come, Jelinek said the average amount given in FEMA assistance to home owners is $2,500 and are capped at $34,000.

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