State of Emergency is Issued in Wisconsin as Northern Dam Fails, One Dead
DAIRYLAND, WISCONSIN – June 19, 2018
On Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency for Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, and Iron counties following widespread damage after severe thunderstorms overwhelmed the Radigan Dam on the Tamarack River in Douglas County in northwestern Wisconsin. The state of emergency comes after severe thunderstorms with heavy rains of 6 to 8 inches, and flooding struck parts of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Some areas saw damaging winds, large hail, downed trees and power lines, mudslides and flash flooding, and demolished roads and buildings.
The National Weather Service reported around 4 p.m. that the dam had been breached. Due to the break, a flash flood warning was issued for both Douglas and Ashland counties, along with several other communities all the way to the Twin Cities.
"We're still looking for high water that's not here yet, with the dam breach a surge is what we're worried about," Chief Mike McMullen said, with the Duxbury Fire & Rescue. "We expect the river to crest in the next day or two," McMullen added a few families living in low lying areas were warned they might want to evacuate.
Locations that are likely to be impacted include Town Road T west of Dairyland, Swedish Highway at the Tamarack River, Highway T west of Cozy Corner and Markville Road east of Markville. Public Works officials estimate more than a dozen roads or bridges have been damaged or collapsed and are now closed off to traffic for who knows how long and that presents a problem for local residents, 5 Eyewitness News Morning reports.
"Street crews just put a new patch here last week, from a washout two years ago," Bob Holmstrom who lives in the area said to KSTP TV. "It was a bad storm, they just got it all repaired, and now we are back to square one."
One man was found dead in Ashland County, Wisconsin, after his vehicle was seen in a flooded roadway, according to the county's sheriff's office. On Sunday morning, deputies found a pickup truck in a ditch in a flooded road with the driver's door open. The water had reached up to six to eight feet on the driver's side. The driver's body was found about 60 feet from the car. He was identified as Thomas Koeper, 75, of Mason, Wisconsin, and the incident is under investigation, CNN reports with reference to the Ashland County Sheriff's Office.
The weather was blamed for injuries suffered by a 12-year-old boy early Sunday when his home caved in during flash flooding in Houghton County, Michigan. County Administrator Eric Forsberg said the boy is alive but had no information on his condition.
The NWS reported that bridges downstream from the dam have flooded and urges drivers who encounter flooded roadways to report it to local law enforcement and turn around.
In Pine County, Minnesota Highway 48 is closed at the St. Croix River. The following roads in the Markville and Cloverton area are underwater: Rutabaga Road east of Tamarack River Road, Duxbury Road, Grace Lake Road and Markville Road east of Tamarack River Road, as well as Willow Hay Road and Shadow Oak Road in Kerrick Township.
Travel is not advised in most of Douglas County and Wisconsin Highway 35 is closed at the Black River. U.S. Highway 53 southbound lanes are being diverted near Solon Springs. Residents who live in the affected area, especially along streams and creeks, are advised to move to higher ground and take immediate precautions to protect themselves and their property. Authorities urge residents to not attempt to drive on flooded roads.