Snow in Madison (File photo)

Snow in Madison (WRN file photo, Jackie Johnson)

Damage done by severe winter weather has the state seeking a federal disaster declaration for eight counties.

Governor Scott Walker has requested the declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Chippewa, Clark, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Marathon, Milwaukee, Winnebago, and Wood counties. If approved, it would help those areas pay for an estimated $11.3 million in damage to public infrastructure caused by the extreme cold last winter. That includes the record number of water main breaks many communities were forced to deal with, as frost levels plunged deeper below the surface than normal and subzero temperatures hung around for days.

Walker says the devastating cold overwhelmed many communities, and a declaration would help them pay for those unexpected damages.

The request is the result of an extensive review done in those eight counties, based on extensive data about frost depths and documented damage. If a disaster declaration is approved, the governor says other affected counties will be checked to see if they are eligible to be included.

Initial reports by the state showed damage from the extreme cold totaled more than $25 million in 69 Wisconsin counties. While damage to public infrastructure was above the dollar threshold needed to request a FEMA disaster declaration, the governor’s office say homes and businesses affected by the extreme cold did not meet the requirements to request individual assistance.

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