Thursday, June 26, 2008

Walworth County declared disaster area

--- Residents can apply immediately for disaster relief

By Ted Sullivan/The Week

Walworth County residents with flooded basements, damaged roofs and clogged sewers can begin applying for relief money after the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared the county a disaster area Tuesday.

Terry Mayer/The Week
High water on Lake Wandawega has swamped most piers.
Heavy rains have caused lakes to rise, flooding basements in sporadic areas throughout the county, said Kevin Williams, the Walworth County emergency management director.

Howling winds have damaged roofs on barns throughout the county, Williams said, and a few people have reported backed-up sewer systems.

FEMA representatives declared Walworth County a disaster area Tuesday after inspecting the area last weekend, he said.

Private property owners and businesses qualify for relief, but public properties such as roads and bridges do not qualify at this time, Williams said.

The damage is not as bad as in surrounding counties, he said, but many residents may qualify for money.

"In the scheme of things, Walworth County has done quite well," Williams said. "We were lucky."

The biggest concern is the overflowing lakes in Sugar Creek Township, he said. The lakes have no outlets.

Dan Boyd, of the Sugar Creek Highway Department, said lots of homes around Lake Wandawega and North Lake have sandbags around them. He said the water is waist deep in some neighborhoods.

"The lake is rising so high," Boyd said.

Charles Papcke, a Sugar Creek Town Board member, said water is settling in several fields, possibly causing crop damage.

"There's a lot of water standing around," he said. "We had lots of rain, but I don't think we have any major catastrophes."

Twenty-eight counties have been declared disasters by FEMA. Other counties declared disasters Tuesday include Adams, Calumet, Green Lake, Jefferson and La Crosse.

People may call (800) 621-3362 or go online to www.fema.gov to see whether they qualify for relief.



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