MIDDLETON (WKOW) — Nine months after historic flooding swept through Dane County, parts of Middleton are still recovering. Most of the damage took place in the city’s storm water infrastructure system as the water rushed through to Lake Mendota.
At Tiedeman Pond, Middleton Mayor Gurdip Brar said you can still see the impacts of the flooding. Parts of the trail are still inaccessible because high water through much of the fall and now again in the spring prevented repairs.
Brar said the water is nowhere near the level it was in August, but it’s still higher than he would like, as severe weather season approaches.
“We are making arrangements that if we need to have a larger pump to handle that water we will,” he said.
That water slowly pumps out to Lake Mendota underground through Lakeview Park. Brar said this process slows the storm water down to prevent runoff from rushing into the lake but if water can’t pump out fast enough, he said it causes problems upstream.
On Deming Way, businesses like Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse understand that issue quite well. Ada Hays, a manager at Johnny’s, was there the night the water rose.
“I was like, ‘Oh look at the parking lot, there’s some puddles,’ and all of a sudden I turn around and it’s up to like car wheels and it just went so fast,” she said.
Hays said the high water forced her staff and their restaurant full of customers to spend the night in the restaurant until the water receded. The next day, nearly every car in their lot was damaged and the business had to close for repairs.
“We had to get all new floors, new wallpaper,” she said.
They reopened in early October and Hays said in the months since they’ve been working to make up for lost business.
Brar said he’s heard dozens of stories like hers, with businesses reporting a collective $33 million in damage.
“It breaks your heart, I do not want to see that happen again,” he said.
That’s why he said they’re closely monitoring ponds like Tiedeman to see if they’ll need to pump water out faster but he said that’s only a temporary fix.
Brar said a long-term fix would mean changing the way the water flows through the storm water system. Middleton is working on a five-year plan to make that possible.
In April, the city passed a referendum allowing it to increase its storm water utility fee to raise money for flood mitigation. The storm water commission is meeting Wednesday with representatives from Madison to discuss what they can do to reduce water runoff to the city.