Portion of downtown Lodi without power after electricity shut off due to gas leak

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LODI, Wis. (WMTV)— Main Street in Lodi is back open but the power remains out after a natural gas leak prompted the closure and evacuation of a portion of downtown Lodi Thursday afternoon.

Chief Scott Klicko of the Lodi Police Department said the gas leak was brought on by the flooding the area is seeing.

"Due to that flooding the basements of some of the businesses and the residences are filling up with water, and what that causes is the furnaces to go out," Klicko said. "And when you have natural gas pumping gas into those furnaces, the furnaces are doing their job by evacuating the gas out through the exhaust."

Klicko said the building that caused the scare is located next to the police station. MG&E shut down the gas and electricity for that portion of Main Street, therefore eliminating the danger from the gas leak and allowing the re-opening of the street.

However, Klicko said that MG&E will not be able to turn the power back on until the water levels subside in the basements of the buildings along Main Street. He guessed that wouldn’t be until at least Friday or even later.

Citizens who lived in flood affected areas of Lodi Thursday afternoon found their basements and garages filled with feet of water. Many used houses and pumps to drain basements, and lined up sandbags along their homes.

"According to what the National Weather Service relayed to our emergency management in Columbia County, is that the ice dams down farther, down the creek farther, is what’s causing the water to back up so far into the city like this," said Klicko.

"It just amazes me, I've lived here all my life and I've never seen it like this," said Ken Kolste, a business owner in downtown Lodi. The lower level of the building where his and his wife Patty's business is located is filled with water.

"Last night when I went home it wasn't near this bad," said Patty Kolste. "This is bad. The basement is to the first step. So hoping the store will be ok."

Spring Creek through downtown Lodi had also well overflowed its banks, carrying recycling bins and debris with the rushing water. Residents said they had never seen the water so high.

"This morning when I came through town at six, the creek was high but it was nothing like this," Ken said. "Then my wife had called me and told me everything was flooded."

Water could be seen reaching feet up people's garages and even cars as it swept through Lodi. Community members pitched in to help stop the water.

"We've been shuttling sandbags to help everybody out, the school and any other place that needs it," Ken said. "It's worth taking a day off of work. It's not good if you don't have a community."

The police department has a mobile command center now at Lodi EMS because the police station on Main Street has no power. Police say they are looking for volunteers to assist with sandbagging efforts at the city garage through the night.

Please call (608) 573-0823 if you have something urgent in which you need to speak with someone at city hall. City hall is without power and phones right now.