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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More flood news

Figures that the best description of what happened in Lake Delton (or, rather, to Lake Delton) would be in the weekly Wisconsin Dells Events:

Around 4 a.m. Monday morning, hundreds of volunteers — including village officials and workers from both boat companies, Tommy Bartlett's and Noah's Ark — gathered at Lake Delton Dam to create a barrier of sandbags.

"From 3 o'clock to 7 o'clock the water continued to go up," Trustee Tom Diehl said. "There was no way to stop it."

During this time, officials realized water from the lake was moving over the roadway on Highway A.

"The dam was holding up fine and then the area near County Highway A breached," said village engineer John Langhans, one of the volunteers. "And once that started, there was nothing that would have stopped it."

As the 700 million gallons of water continued to flow, it increasingly eroded Anchor Bay, eventually taking three homes into the river and splitting two others in half. The breach was estimated at 400 feet wide with water more than 12 feet deep.

It also uprooted several trees and utility lines, which led to an hour-long gas leak and a broken sewer pipe temporarily flowed directly into the river. There were no injuries from the event, as officials evacuated residents early that morning.

Just after the roadway breached, the village board held an emergency meeting to establish a response. The first priority was to immediately concentrate their efforts around Pump Station 1, where significant erosion on both sides created an island and threatened its operation.

The police, meanwhile, needed to launch their rescue boat as people continued to fish on the lake at 11 a.m. By 2 p.m. the lake was almost entirely empty, and the department's boat is now stuck in the middle of the lake.
Village and state officials are already working on a disaster assessment, which would lead to FEMA help and federal funds for repairing the damage.


Langhans told village officials that they'd likely begin working on a temporary structure, like a dam, to close off the 300-foot gap and begin refilling the lake as early as Tuesday.

"The big concern held by everybody here is, when this drains the lake, will we be able to get the water levels back up and, if so, how fast?" he said.

Though officials could not estimate how long the lake will be gone, Assistant Zoning Administrator Jess Eastman said it certainly won't be several years.
But in this story:

Village engineer John Langhans said they're looking at creating a temporary barrier to do so, but isn't likely going to be established this summer.
Also, check out this picture of the breach, contributed to the paper by Joseph Leute: