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Two youngsters ride their bike on the saturated soil in Handy Andy Park in Spring Valley next to the lake the flood waters created.

Flood waters reach into Spring Valley, cause half-millon in damage

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Pierce County Herald
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Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

SPRING VALLEY - Locals say it was the worst flooding in the village since 1976 and probably worse than that.

The Spring Valley Dam cannot alone prevent the Eau Galle River from rising fast if five inches of rain fall in a 45 minute period as it did Tuesday evening. But it did do its job in preventing the kinds of floods that took place in Spring Valley before it was built.

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Corrine Hodapp, the park manager at the Eau Galle Reservoir, said the system worked as designed. The dam held back much of the water that could have inundated the town and the filling basins, the normally dry creek beds designed to divert flood waters, did their job.

Spring Valley saw major floods in 1894, 1896, 1903, 1907, 1934, 1938 and 1942. Three floods alone took place in 1942, one of which, on Sept. 17, covered the village in 20 feet of water. When the dam, the Midwest's largest earthen structure, was completed in 1968, such flash flooding ceased outside of rare occasions.

Tuesday evening being one of them.

The dam could not prevent all flooding given the amount of water that fell in such a short period and because of the saturated ground that has already experienced a lot of rain this summer. The reservoir level rose to over 28 feet.

"Mother nature is mother nature and no system can completely prevent flooding when you get that much rain in a short period of time," Hodapp said. "It didn't matter where you were in town. I live on a hill and even I've got flood water in the basement."

Thus, basements, particularly in homes and other buildings along Sabin Ave. where the Eau Galle river runs in back of, were flooded, including the elementary school building. Flood waters also covered much of Handy Andy Park, although the new treatment plant being built was spared because it was on high ground. The first damage estimates are coming in at $500,000.

See the rest of this article in the Aug. 18 print edition of the Herald

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