Sauk County Emergency Management warns residents to be prepared ahead of potential flooding

SAUK COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) -- Sauk County is bracing for the potential of more flooding as officials expect warming temperatures and rain in the forecast to cause river levels to rise.

After getting hit hard by record flooding in the summer of 2018, the Sauk County Emergency Management Director is saying that areas that were most impacted, such as Rock Springs, Reedsburg, and La Valle, should watch out in the coming days.

"The main concern that we have right now is with the rising water in the rivers," said Jeff Jelinek. "There's going to be a tremendous amount of snow to the north of us, and with the anticipated heavy rain, and then higher temperatures, the possibility's there right now."

Jelinek said that Sauk County Emergency Management has been in contact with the National Weather Service, and will have a conference call with them and local communities on Wednesday to learn about potential forecasts and river levels.

With the current forecast of temperatures reaching into the forties and even the fifties, snow melt could run into the Baraboo River, causing levels to increase, threatening those along the river.

"The possibility of flooding is going to be there towards the end of the week and into the weekend if this forecast stays the same," said Jelinek.

The shift from winter conditions and cold temperatures to a warm spell could cause challenges in managing this round of flooding.

"Unfortunately with the ground being frozen, the water doesn't really have a place to go, so the spring flooding has a little bit more potential than during the summer when the ground is thawed," said Joshua Kowalke, Ambulance and Emergency Manager for the City of Reedsburg.

Kowalke said that another issue with potential winter flooding could be people's furnaces breaking down, in addition to snow and ice acting as obstacles.

"The biggest challenge right now is just the snow," he said. "Where we maybe would put sand piles in the past we really can't at this moment just because there is potentially still ice there, there's snow piles there right now instead of us being able to put sand there."

For residents who were impacted in the 2018 flooding, and even the 2008 flooding in Reedsburg and the surrounding communities, the recovery process could have to start all over again.

"People are still recovering, and to think that they may have to go through this again is almost unthinkable," said Sarah Riedel, owner of Antiques on Main in Reedsburg.

Riedel said that water entered the basement of her shop in the 2018 flooding, which ultimately required some new flooring. She said she considers herself lucky compared to what she saw other business owners and residents go through.

"Everyone today is just, ''I hope we don't have that happen again,'" she said. "So I guess after you've gone through such a catastrophe, it's always going to be in the back of your mind."

Sauk County Emergency Management is providing sand bags at the West Baraboo Garage in Baraboo. In the mean time, Kowalke suggested moving items out of basements if residents know they live in a flood prone-area.

The long term recovery fund is still available, said both Jelinek and Kowalki, and is meant for people affected by and still recovering from the 2018 flooding.