Outside the Classroom -Typical flooding in the county

by Julie Mecikalski

After an early April snowstorm, followed by two back-to-back snow and ice storms two weeks later, and finally several inches of rain last week, it is no wonder the local rivers and tributaries are swollen beyond the banks. It appears that this is a typical spring in Juneau County, and the water does not seem to be receding any time soon.

With a marshy environment and high water tables, residents will have to depend on evaporation and dry weather for the water levels to drop.

Accuweather forecasts Juneau County temperatures for the month of May to be in the upper 60s to low 70s with very few scattered showers throughout the month. Other weather sites such as NOAA, The Weather Channel, Weather Underground, and Juneau County Weather show similar forecasts at least for the next week or so.

While flooding is typical for this time of year, it still tends to be fascinating for many observers to view the increasing levels of water in local rivers and streams. Some of the past floods which have affected the Juneau County area include: November 1939—The Red Cross had to help more than 1000 people in Wisconsin. This included repairs of buildings, replacement of household goods to the extent of more than $500, and damage to farm buildings and equipment due to the floodings of the Wisconsin River and its tributaries. Lime was purchased to purify wells in the flooded regions.

April 1949—The construction of the Petenwell Dam led to permanent flooding in Juneau and Adams Counties. More about this at a later date.

March 1959—Heavy rains in the county area resulted in rivers rising. A deputy sheriff noted that the Lemonweir River was still iced up and that flood was feared in Necedah as the Yellow River—also iced over—may end up flooding.

July 1978—Massive rainfall forced many residents in Elroy and Union Center to evacuate. Sources quoted older people in the area, “(They) have never seen anything like it in their lifetimes.”art of the Wisconsin Highway 71 bridge in Kendall collapsed. Norwalk and several parts of Monroe County had to evacuate as the Kickapoo River Basin was four feet high and filling streets and basements.

April-May 1993—Highway F in northern Juneau County was closed between Highways G and 80 because the Little Yellow River overflowed its banks. Houses around the Baraboo River area in Elroy were close to causing residents to evacuate. Several other roads in southern Juneau County were closed due to flooding.

June 2008—The major flood from heavy rains that affected the majority of southern Wisconsin had a major effect on several residents in Juneau County. Emergency crews from around the county were dispatched to assist with filling and sandbagging around the Baraboo River in Elroy. Snow plows were used to clear the roads of mud. Juneau County Highway and Public Works Director Dennis Weiss commented to the media, “Repairing roads from washouts and removing fallen trees from roads would cost between $300,000 and $400,000—about half of the county’s annual budget for road repairs.