2 Wisconsin counties look to fix 2018 flooding damage

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) Two neighboring counties in southern Wisconsin are taking steps to address last year's widespread flooding that drenched streets, damaged homes and caused lakes to spill over.

Dane County has budgeted more than $18 million this year to go toward flood mitigation projects, the Wisconsin Public Radio reported . The move comes after torrential storms last summer dumped more than 11 inches (28 centimeters) of rain in some areas, causing power outages and floating cars.

Madison's flood risk is multiplied by record development, climate change and its geography sitting on an isthmus of former wetlands and surrounded by lakes.

"What we're looking at in 2019 is a fairly aggressive program aimed at improving water flow so that we can move water, when it does hit through the system faster, in combination with looking at how we help mitigate some of the damage as far as reducing runoff," said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

Dane County has already started looking into two projects to remove sediment and widen passages to move water more quickly through the lake system. It currently takes two weeks to move 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain through the system, Parisi said.

County officials also plan to restore existing wetlands.

Meanwhile, Sauk County is focusing on its flood recovery program , which helps connect residents with caseworkers to secure aid. The program started in December and has raised more than $300,000 in donations, according to Jeff Jelinek, the county's emergency management director.

The funds will go toward a variety of efforts, such as construction, mold clearing and mental health, Jelinek said.

Sauk County is also beginning to apply for grant funding for a study on the impact of future development, Jelinek said.

"We've reached 100-year, we've reached 500-year floods, but what happens if you reach 1,000-year flood?" he said. "What areas would be impacted?"

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Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org

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