(WKOW) — Watch the WKOW broadcast, “Facing the Floods,” that chronicles the people and events of the historic flooding that began Aug. 20, 2019 in southern Wisconsin.
The program aired at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 23, 2019.
All week, we’ve been highlighting the people and communities affected by the floods and their work to recover — work that continues for many even today.
Water filled our communities, but it couldn’t drown out our spirit.
People watched as water took over their homes, filling basements, destroying belongings and beginning a year of work to rebuild.
And as nature unleashed its worst, Wisconsin showed its best.
Strangers stepping up to save homes and rebuild businesses.
From Reedsburg and Gays Mills through Mazomanie and Black Earth, from Milddleton to Madison and on down into Rock County, flood water changed our cities and towns.
And it changed lives forever.
On Madison’s southwest side, near Schroeder Road and Chapel Hill Drive, floodwater swept away a car with three people inside.
Matt Phair, who was then a Madison Alder, and his wife were riding their bikes nearby when they saw what was happening, and rushed to help.
They, along with another man, pulled two people from the car.
But the current became too strong — and the driver was pulled downstream and died in the flood water.
Many others were trapped in their cars throughout the area and rescued by emergency crews or bystanders as the unexpected floodwaters rose.
Other parts of southern Wisconsin were hit hard as well.
In Mazomanie, water rescues continued throughout the night.
The Red Cross opened shelters for flood victims in Madison, Cross Plains and Mazomanie.
And as the flood waters began to slowly recede days after the first storms arrived, the magnitude of the devastation began to reveal itself.
An archive of stories from a year ago, along with new reports can be found HERE.