Darlington flooding first major test of flood mitigation system

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DARLINGTON (WKOW) — The town of Darlington experienced the highest floodwaters in more than 25 years Thursday night with the Pecatonica river cresting at over 17 feet.

Much of the flooding was confined to the downtown area and the Highway 23 bridge was covered in water.

The spot was one of many businesses downtown surrounded by floodwater

“I think the whole town knows that this place floods,” co-owners Cody Bredeson said.

Him and Andrew Molzof moved in to The Spot back on December 15th, so they spent their 4 month anniversary, cleaning.

“Every surface needs to be touched with some kind of cleaner, mop disinfectant, everything,” Bredeson said. “I’m sure we lost a pile of inventory, so we’re going to have to stock up, it’s going to be a while.”

Officials say Thursday’s flooding was worst in decades, but this time, they were prepared.

“The impact on the businesses here wasn’t as bad as it could have been 25 years ago because of the flood mitigation efforts that had been done over the last 25 years,” Darlington Police Chief Jason King said.

Many of the historic buildings were raised and had metal plates put in front of the doors to keep the water out.

Chief King said this was that system’s first major test and they’re now seeing what went right and what needs improvement.

“That’s what we’ve done, every time there’s been a flood in Darlington, local government, we’re documenting, we’re learning and we’re making the notations so that the next time it happens we do the job better than the last,” King said.

Even though chief king says the flooding damage could have been quite a bit worse, at The Spot they had up to six inches of water in their main area.

That’s because it was one of a few buildings downtown that wasn’t flood mitigated, even after a major flood back in 1990.

Bredesen and Molzof found out the hard way when water started rising from the floor, and still don’t know why their business wasn’t prepared.

Darlington Police said they didn’t put out a call for volunteers because there wasn’t enough cleanup work for hundreds of people.

They did say if you know people who need a hand, to reach out directly to them.

Francisco Almenara

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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