Communities deal with damage after recent flooding

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- After several communities were hit with heavy flooding in March, those communities are starting to assess the damage to roads, homes and businesses, and prepare for the rest of the season.

With floodwaters receding and river levels going down, people are returning to their homes and starting to clean up. Local, county and state agencies are also starting the long process of assessing the damage.

"This has just been a really bad couple of years," said Lori Getter, a spokesperson for Wisconsin Emergency Management. "We had over 300 people evacuated, so it's taking time to get those homes inspected, get the water receded, get the homes inspected, get power turned back on and get those people in."

Getter said local agencies collect reports of damage first before passing them on the state level. Right now, it is too early to know whether any federal aid from FEMA is possible.

"We have been in communication with FEMA but at this point there’s no declaration. We need to see what those numbers are, if we would potentially qualify, but we’re a long ways off at this point," Getter said.

Getter also wants people to prepare for more issues in the weeks and months ahead. This round of flooding is over, but it is still early in the season.

As snow in northern Wisconsin melts, that could raise river levels in the southern part of the state again, increasing the possibility of more flooding. The situation could get worse with additional rain.

"We could be looking at a long, wet spring and summer like we did last year," Getter said.

To prepare for the rest of the spring, Getter recommends taking precautions like getting sandbags if necessary and talking to the insurance company. She also recommends buying flood insurance.

"Yes, it is a little expensive, but it's an investment in protecting your home in case there is another flooding," she said.

For homeowners who have damage from this round of flooding, Getter said it is important to keep track of everything.

"Make sure you take lots of pictures and keep accurate records, especially for cleanup, repair costs," she said.

Homeowners should also report any damages to their city or county. To find out how to report damages in your area, click here. You can also call your county's emergency management office.