Middleton seeks federal disaster funds for $45 million in damages

MIDDLETON (WKOW) — Starting Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be in Wisconsin to take a look at damage from August’s storms.

The visit comes at Gov. Scott Walker’s request as the state is closing in on a quarter of a billion dollars in flood damage.

As vivid memories from those storms turn into costly cleanup projects, Middleton is hoping for federal assistance.

City Administrator Mike Davis put together Middleton’s damage assessment. In total he said there’s more than $45 million in damages. That includes $7 million in damages to city infrastructure, $5 million to homes and apartments and $33.2 million to businesses.

“I don’t know that any other commercial area in the state has been hit as hard as ours,” he said.

Davis said a number of those businesses will be covered with their owner’s flood insurance but disaster aid could make a big difference for many smaller businesses.

“It will be very difficult for some businesses to open their doors again,” he said.

As for residents, he said FEMA will assess their damage alongside the rest of the Dane County. The county told Davis it’s unlikely enough homes in the county meet the damage threshold for aid, but he hopes his assessment could make a difference.

“We hope FEMA sees the damage that we do,” he said. “It’s devastated the community in many ways.”

Another Middleton area seeking disaster aid is the Pheasant Branch Conservancy. The park suffered about $2.5 million in damage, making it one of the most expensive infrastructure repairs.

Pheasant Branch Board President Lloyd Eagan said the flood waters overwhelmed the creek, washing out bridges, trails and trees.

“It was amazing,” she said. “I mean just to see the raging torrent that this mild little stream which normally is a small creek. It was just unbelievable.”

The damage was so severe portions of the conservancy remain closed due to safety concerns.

“We offered to help the city right away for cleanup and they said the most important thing you can do is to help keep people out,” Eagan said.

She said the closure disappointed many in Middleton, who are eager to see it reopen.

“By sitting at the entrances you know when it first happened,” Eagan said. “We learned how special this place is to everybody and what it means to them.”

She said she’s been happy to see many volunteers stop by to help clean up and has seen a number of donations pour in. She’s hoping a combination of federal, state and community dollars can help restore the conservancy.

Michelle Alfini

Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

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