Wisconsin River Levee Breach Forces Residents to Flee

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Some residents may be totally cut off from services due to road closures

Wisconsin River Levee Breach forces residents of the City of Portage to flee after a 120 year old levee started failing after heavy rainfall last week of up to 10 to 12 inches in some areas, raised the river levels over the flood stage. The breach also may have stranded some residents in the Blackhawk Park area after is was cut off after the only road serving the neighborhood was closed. Officials stated that part of the levee south of highway 33 eroded Sunday and created leaks, although the levee has not totally collapsed yet, but the total collapse of the 120 year old sand levee is expected. Once the complete failure occurs, it is not yet known how far south the flood waters of the river will travel. Click here to see a map showing the location of Portage.

The Wisconsin River Levee is a part of the Caledonia-Lewiston Levee System which consists of several dikes constructed mainly of sand during the 1890’s by local area homeowners near the river according to the Wisconsin DNR. This levee is a relic, constructed with local available materials, primarily sand, with out any engineering design advice or the practice of any levee standards at the time.

Some residents had to be taken out by boat as the waters rose in the area. Those that did not heed the forced evacuation notice are left on their own, as for now there is no other transportation than boats to the area. Emergency vehicles including the Police and EMS will not be able to reach any of the residents that decided to ride out the flood.

The residents are used to high waters and dealing with high water but the amount of water this time is something they have not experienced, which may be a bit of a surprise to some residents whom did not evacuate when requested to do so. The flood waters of the Wisconsin River are expected to drop below flood stage by Wednesday afternoon according to the weather service. They do, however expect some flooding of the nearby Mississippi River as all the rivers that are flooded will dump their water into the Mississippi which will rise and experience some flooding of its own, near La Crosse and Winona later in the week.

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