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Falk: Rains not over, County prepared, FEMA coming

For more information contact:

Joanne Haas, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
J. McLellan, Dept. of Emergency Management, (608) 267-2542
Elise Shaffer, Dane County Sheriff’s Office, (608) 284-6162

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 8/23/2007

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Property owners should report damage; Inmates help with sandbags

As Dane County prepares for more heavy storms following record rainfalls, County Executive Kathleen Falk today reassured residents the county is prepared to handle the worsening conditions and urged property owners to report individual damages to their local officials in advance of next week’s survey by federal officials.

“We are in record territory with the onslaught of rains following the extremely dry July. But the county is ready to handle the situation and ready to help our citizens. The most important thing for all Dane County residents is to stay safe,” Falk said during a news conference when she and other county officials updated the media on current flooding and damages.

“That means taking several important precautionary steps now to lessen the impact of the very real chance of flooding conditions, now that the soil is saturated and our lake levels are at their summer maximum levels,” Falk said. “Steps such as making sure your kids are not playing in the flood waters. Tie up your boats and secure or take out your piers.

“Loose boats slow the water flow and can damage property. And, if you live on the lake, place your sandbags back from the waterline 5 to 10 feet. That’s so the shoreline can absorb the impact of any waves.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be in Wisconsin early next week to conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) of counties affected by this past week’s storms. Damage information submitted from Wisconsin counties to Wisconsin Emergency Management will then be verified through the preliminary assessment.

“It is extremely important that residents submit information regarding the damage to their property to their local municipality,” said Kathy Krusiec, Dane County Emergency Management Director. “When reporting, include the date, extent of damage, and estimated cost of repair. And take pictures.”

Krusiec said flood conditions might no longer exist at the time of the federal inspection, making photographs crucial. “Once the PDA is complete, verified information will be utilized by the Governor in his request for his request for a Federal Designated Disaster Declaration.”

In response to the recent flooding and potential for more rain, Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney is utilizing jail inmates with work release privileges to assist in sandbagging efforts in Monona and Middleton. “The inmates are working under the supervision of Dane County Deputies,” Mahoney said. “There are currently 10 inmates working on sandbagging.”

Regarding county roads, County Trunk Highway Y, between State Highway 78 and Mazomanie will remain closed through the weekend with traffic rerouted to State Highway 78 and U.S. Highway 14. Pam Dunphy of the Dane County Public Works, Highway and Transportation Department, said the bridge remains in place but the road has washed out around the structure. “We anticipate temporary repairs can be made early next week, but our engineers are still planning the temporary and permanent repairs,” she said.

Kevin Connors, Director of the County Department of Land and Water Resources, said the lakes have gone beyond their summer maximum levels and the conditions are constantly assessed.

Dr. Thomas Schlenker of the Public Health Madison-Dane County Department stressed three public health concerns. “People need to remove water from their basements and do it safely. Electricity and water do not mix. Gasoline-powered pumps should not be used inside to guard against any carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Schlenker said people should anticipate mold in their basements once the water has receded. “Mold on solid surfaces such as metal usually can be removed with a 10 percent chlorine bleach solution, but porous materials such as textiles and stuffed toys, need to be thrown away. And it is imperative the basement be completely dry before attending to the mold.”

People who use private wells should be cautious, Schlenker said, because flooding often contaminates wells.

“If there is a concern, boiling the water at a hard boil for one minute works to make the water drinkable,” Schlenker said. “Also, the health department laboratory is available to test the safety of the drinking water.” Information on the lab can be found on the department’s Web site, or by calling (608) 243-0357.

For information about sand and sandbag distribution points open, call the Dane County United Way at 2-1-1 (from cell phones – 246-HELP [4357] ).

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