Residents of a Portage area neighborhood are expected to return home today, after they evacuated on Sunday when part of a levee broke on the Wisconsin River. Meanwhile, the state DNR says it will make a second effort to buy out more than 100 homes in Blackhawk Park area, and allow the levy to deteriorate.
State officials first talked about a buy-out with local officials after the Floods-of-2008, and the DNR’s Steve Miller says the current flood should re-energize those talks. Miller says the 14-mile, 110-year-old sand levee was poorly built, and it’s too dilapidated. Eric Haplin of the National Committee on Levee Safety says many levees were not designed to protect people. He says many are just dirt mounds built years ago to protect farm crops.
But the chairman of the town where the Portage levee is located says it should stay, and the DNR should keep maintaining it. Steve Pate of Caledonia says the levee prevents flood-waters from reaching Interstate-39, and it kept things from getting worse this past weekend.
The levee held, even with the breach and the Wisconsin River dropped more than a foot in the past day. It was 2.4 feet above its banks at four this morning, and it’s expected to drop below flood stage sometime after midnight tonight.