Rain stops, but flood damage in Minnesota, Wisconsin remains

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Radigan Flowage Dam near Dairyland, Wisconsin. Photo: Paul Blume/Fox 9

The rain may have stopped, but the damage from the flooding over the weekend in northern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin remains. 

Floodwaters are starting to recede after the Radigan Flowage Dam west of Dairyland, Wis., failed Monday afternoon. The dam failure caused the Tamarack and St. Croix Rivers to flood, affecting communities along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border--including Burnett and Douglas County in Wisconsin and Pine County in Minnesota. As of Tuesday evening, a Flood Warning remains in place for Pine County through 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday. 

Two of the three roads into Dairyland were still closed as of Tuesday evening, and many in the area aren't sure when they'll be operational again. As of now, approximately 20-30 people who live in the area are effectively cut off from the outside world because of roadway washouts.

"It’s pretty bad," said Russ Sullivan, the Dairyland Fire Chief. "Everything is gone out there, I don’t know if they’ll rebuild or what they’ll do.”

Just before 2:00 p.m., the Wisconsin Department of Transportation reported the St. Croix River was still high at Highway 77 in Danbury, but the water was trending down. 

In Pine County, water continues to run high on the Kettle River and other smaller streams Tuesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. According to the Pine County Sheriff's Office all the roads have reopened except for County Road 173 north of Highway 48. At the Wisconsin border, Highway 48 remains closed.

A helicopter remains on standby in nearby Siren, Wis., in case of an urgent medical situation, while about 25 homes voluntarily evacuated from Burnett County due to flooding concerns Monday. Those people were able to return home Tuesday morning, but the risk of further flooding remains.

"You have to start planning, 'What if it takes out another bridge? Ok, how do we get our people from one side to the other?'" said Burnett County Emergency Manager Chris Sybers. "We’re very rural. So [if we] lose a bunch of roads, it makes things even worse."

Many roadways in both states remain closed or have been washed away due to the flooding. Officials are warning people not to drive through standing water because they will not be able to see whether the pavement is washed out. 

The Wisconsin DOT said damage to roads and highways cannot be assessed until the water goes down. Anyone with property damage due to flooding is encouraged to call 2-1-1 to file a report.

As of Tuesday, Two deaths have now been attributed to storms and flooding. On Sunday, a 75-year-old man from Mason, Wisconsin was found not far from his pickup along a flooded road in Ashland County. In Sawyer County, severe thunderstorms toppled a tree onto a camper on Lake Chetac, killed a 55-year-old man from Redwood Falls, Minnesota and injuring a woman and two children, the Associated Press reported.