Janesville14.5°

Walworth County residents preparing for cleanup

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Ted Sullivan
June 27, 2008
— Along a remote, narrow drive accessing waterfront property on Lake Wandawega, Matthew Stovich has been trying to rescue his uncle’s house from floodwater.

He has ripped out the soggy and defiled carpet in the basement. He has been running two sump pumps. And he still has to rebuild the splintered dock.


“It’s going to be a lot of work,” Stovich said, surveying the damage at his uncle’s house and others along Oak Lane and Z Street.


Stovich is one of several residents in Walworth County who might qualify for disaster relief money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And he is going to apply with the hope that it will pay for his repairs.


“We’ll try,” he said. “I don’t see why we couldn’t.”


Most of the flood damage in Walworth County stems from heavy rains causing lakes to rise. Wind has damaged the roofs of barns. Fields also have suffered crop damage.


Much of the damage was concentrated in Sugar Creek and La Grange townships.


In La Grange, water flooded a boat landing on the Lauderdale Lakes and crossed the street into a man’s garage along Sterlingworth Court. Sandbags were used to fight off the water.


In Sugar Creek, a private beach and parking lot on Lake Wandawega was submerged in water. Yellow caution tape surrounded the area.


Several homes along Barkers Drive on North Lake also were drenched in floodwaters.


While walking around the neighborhood, Bonnie Wascom pointed out the property damage.


One neighbor had rabbit cages floating above a garden. Another had a dock flushed under water. Yet another had the lake’s shoreline knocking on the back door.


“The water just keeps coming and coming and coming and coming and coming and coming,” Wascom said, surveying the damage. “I mean, look at it.”


The water has been rising slowly for days, she said, and it is unknown whether an end is in sight.


“All that stuff over there, it just keeps coming up,” Wascom said, pointing toward the water in a neighbor’s backyard. “You used to be able to walk out there and sit out there. You can’t anymore.”


At least one neighbor has contacted FEMA, she said, but it was unknown whether any others would call.


FEMA representatives declared Walworth County a disaster area Tuesday.


Private property owners and businesses qualify for disaster relief, but public properties such as roads and bridges don’t at this time.


FEMA crews will be in Walworth County in the next couple weeks to inspect the flooded neighborhoods, said Kevin Williams, the Walworth County emergency management director.


“If people have any type of damage, I highly recommend they register with FEMA,” Williams said.


To replace his uncle’s dock, Stovich figures it will cost $5,000. A new basement carpet and new landscaping will increase the bill.


“We used to have mulch beds, flowers and bushes,” he said. “That’s all gone now.”


TO LEARN MORE

People with weather-related property damage should call the Federal Emergency Management Agency at 1-800-621-3362 or go online to www.fema.gov to see whether they qualify for relief.



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