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County starts process to apply for flood aid

ELLSWORTH -- The Pierce County Board has declared a large part of the county a disaster area and will seek state money to help pay for flash flood damage.

The cost of public road repairs following heavy rains Aug. 13 is at $640,000 and climbing, said Emergency Management Director Gary Brown Wednesday. Damage to private property is estimated at $150,000.

Brown said the final damage cost will be higher because bills and estimates are still coming in.

"Almost daily we're getting additional information," he said.

The disaster proclamation will allow the county and the affected towns and villages to apply for assistance through the Wisconsin Disaster Fund and the Department of Transportation's Flood Damage Aid Program.

Although neither fund will pay the full cost of road repairs, they could pay 70 to 75 percent, Brown said. He is looking into the possibility of getting Community Block Grant funding to repair damage to private homes.

Most damage from the Aug. 13 heavy rains was seen in the Plum City and Elmwood areas. Over 7 inches of rain fell on Plum City, which had received about 5 inches of rain a week earlier.

Brown said as soon as they could, county road workers and town crews removed debris from roads to make them passable, started temporary repairs and placed barricades in unsafe areas.

Deputies and firefighters secured the area and helped with evacuation efforts. Short-term shelter was provided to about a dozen people and 30 homes had minor damage.

Much of the damage was to roads, ditches and culverts.

Brown said federal disaster assistance isn't available because the damage was well under the $6 million threshold and because the flooding was limited to such a small area, mostly Pierce and Pepin counties.

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