Businesses, charities lead Sauk County flood relief

September 6, 2018

As Baraboo River flooding threatens Sauk County homes and businesses, volunteers are rising up to provide relief.

Several organizations and businesses have stepped up to help flood victims. Baraboo’s U-Haul location is offering free self-storage to affected residents. Samaritan’s Purse has created a home base for volunteers at Walnut Hill Bible Church.

Last week, the Sauk County Office of Emergency Management partnered with the Greater Sauk Community Foundation to create an aid fund. Led by $10,000 gifts from Community First Bank and Baraboo State Bank, the Sauk County Disaster Relief Fund already has collected more than $40,000. Donors can make gifts online or by mail.

Emergency Management will screen requests for aid. The Community Foundation is waiving its administration fee. “We are here to connect local donors with community needs – and the need here is dire,” said Robin Whyte, executive director.

Donations will go toward long-term recovery rather than crisis management. Emergency Management will convene a committee of citizen representatives to direct money to victims without other resources. “Most area residents don’t have flood insurance, and FEMA aid only goes so far,” Whyte said. “The priority is safety.”

Located at state Highway 136 in West Baraboo, U-Haul is offering 30 days of free self-storage to flood victims. “Many residents are coming home to water damage after being forced to evacuate,” said General Manager Raymond Pooler. “As a caring member of these communities, U-Haul is happy to provide a month of free self-storage to our affected neighbors.”

Meanwhile, volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse, a national charity, gathered Saturday at Walnut Hill after helping out in the Madison area. The church also hosted Samaritan’s Purse volunteers during flooding in 2008.

Samaritan’s Purse sends volunteer crews out from the church daily at 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. On Wednesday, they filled sandbags in Reedsburg. Once the water recedes, they’ll focus their energies on recovery. Teams of 15 are expected to swell to 50 as volunteers arrive from around the country.

“Our volunteers are able to connect with folks during this time,” said Todd Taylor, assistant manager for U.S. disaster relief. “There are hundreds of families watching their homes flood for the second time in one week. Pray for the Lord to give weary homeowners peace and comfort.”

Pastor Dan Gunderson said the church will house volunteers for three weeks. “They have a small army of traveling volunteers that come from around the country to wherever they set up shop,” he said. “We’re in kind of a tough spot waiting for the actual disaster to be completed so we can start cleaning houses, putting in new drywall, etcetera.”

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