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Two Wisconsin counties look to repair 2018 flooding damage

MADISON (AP) — Two neighboring counties in southern Wisconsin are taking steps to clean up the mess left behind last year after floodwaters drenched streets, damaged homes and caused lakes to spill over.

Dane County has budgeted more than $18 million this year for flood-mitigation projects, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. That money was set aside after torrential storms last summer dumped more than 11 inches of rain in some places.

Madison’s flood risks are unusually high because of the city’s dense urban development and position on an isthmus surrounded by lakes, as well as the effects of climate change.

“What we’re looking at in 2019 is a fairly aggressive program aimed at improving water flow so that we can move water, when it does hit through the system faster, in combination with looking at how we help mitigate some of the damage as far as reducing runoff,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

Dane County has already started looking into two projects to remove sediment and widen passages to move water more quickly through the lake system. It now takes two weeks to move 2 inches of rain through the system, Parisi said.

County officials also plan to restore existing wetlands.

Meanwhile, Sauk County is drawing up its own flood-recovery plans and helping residents work with caseworkers who can provide relief aid. Those efforts, which began in December, have raised more than $300,000 worth of donations, according to Jeff Jelinek, county emergency-management director.

The money will go toward various endeavors, such as construction, mold clearing and mental-health treatment, Jelinek said.

Sauk County is also beginning to apply for grant money for a study on the likely consequences of future development, Jelinek said.

“We’ve reached 100-year, we’ve reached 500-year floods, but what happens if you reach 1,000-year flood?” he said. “What areas would be impacted?”

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