Madison focuses on infrastructure and communication improvements after historic floods

Published: Aug. 18, 2019 at 9:51 PM CDT
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The City of Madison is making strides in how they respond to flash flooding and pin pointing weaknesses from 2018 historic floods. Engineers have been working year round on models to mitigate flash flooding in Madison, as well as ways to improve lake flooding.

"Some places where we knew we had an undersized pipe that we knew was undersized and this event really brought that to light," said Phil Gaebler, Madison Water Resource Engineer. "We are doing some repairs on those right now."

Madison’s Engineers say areas of the city flooded that have never flooded before. Madison is in the process of installing larger pipes underground to alleviate risks of flash flooding in certain areas.

“The storms are changing,” said Gaebler.

Ed Ruckriegel is the Emergency Coordinator for Madison. He says his emergency responders know the storms are changing because they have witnessed it more than most. Madison emergency responders had a record breaking amount of rescues and calls during the 2018 floods.

"The big challenge was just the sheer number of calls. The fire fighters were up to their ears in incidents."said Ruckriegel.

Two of Madison’s fire trucks went out of service on August 20, 2018 from the flooded waters. There was a water rescue on Madison’s West Side that is one emergency responders won’t ever forget.

“It’s tough for the emergency responders,” Ruckriegel said after a man died from the flash floods.

Ruckriegel said the top city entities have reflected back on their response during the floods and are proud of what they accomplished but are working on a more unified approach and have a better plan to coordinate volunteers during the aftermath.

The City of Madison’s engineers have made strides in their plan moving forward. They brought on a new public information officer to talk on behalf of the department while the engineers can focus more directly on problem solving during a disaster.