FEMA assesses flood damage in Sauk, Juneau counties
LA VALLE — Local officials guided assessors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency around flood-damaged areas Sept. 27 in Sauk County.
FEMA officials visited Reedsburg and La Valle and heard how residents were impacted by the flood as they documented damage to buildings. The team plans to visit Rock Springs, North Freedom and Baraboo on Friday.
La Valle Village President Cody Kowalke said the assessment will help determine whether President Donald Trump would declare the area a disaster, which would free up federal aid resources.
The Sauk County visits are part of a larger effort to collect information for a report that ultimately will go to Gov. Scott Walker.
FEMA Media Relations Specialist Pamela Saulsby was with a team in Juneau County Sept. 25.
“We’re going city to city, neighborhood to neighborhood and we’re knocking on doors talking to survivors,” Saulsby said. “They are telling us the extent of their losses. Some of them are minimal, some of them are major.”
In Wisconsin, 17 counties are being considered for a federal disaster designation related to August flooding, including Iron, La Crosse, Monroe, Juneau, Adams, Marquette, Green Lake, Fond Du Lac, Vernon, Crawford, Richland, Sauk, Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Jefferson and Ozaukee.
FEMA only will visit locations provided to them by county and state officials. Kowalke recommends anyone impacted by the flood who has not yet reported damage to local officials to immediately do so. “We encourage that right away.”
Kowalke said his own home had “about four feet of water in the basement.” He lost his furnace, hot water, washer, dryer and stove. Some of Kowalke’s neighbors have experienced the same kind of loss.
The information FEMA collects will be compiled and presented to the governor’s office.
“The governor has to decide, based on all this information and data that comes in, whether the state can actually absorb the extent of the losses or if it’s too much and they’re going to need federal assistance,” Saulsby said.
Saulsby said it is difficult to say how long it will take for people to get FEMA assistance because every disaster is different.
The flooding in Wisconsin may have passed, but the cost of the disaster is only beginning to be calculated.