USA – Deadly Floods in Wisconsin and Minnesota After 254mm of Rain in 24 Hours

Update, 15 July, 2016

In Wisconsin, the Ashland County Sheriff’s Department reported on 14 July that a man has died after his vehicle was dragged away by floodwaters of the swollen Marengo River, near the Township of White River, Wisconsin. The man was an elected Supervisor for the Town of Marengo.

The recent fatality in White River brings the total number of flood-related deaths to three.

Original report, 13 July, 2016

Parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin were hit by severe flooding yesterday after a heavy rain of up to 10 inches (254 mm) fell overnight from 11 to 12 July. Two people are reported to have died in the floods.

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, Governor. Scott Walker has declared a State of Emergency in eight counties after severe flooding. In a statement, the Governor said:

“Beginning on July 11, 2016, widespread and continuing severe thunderstorms producing torrential rain , damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes have forced the evacuation of persons, downed trees and power lines, and caused flash flooding damaging roads and bridges in the counties of Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Price, Sawyer and Washburn amounting to a natural disaster.”

Fatalities, Injuries and Flood Rescues

According to the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, a man died as a result of flash flooding near Saxon Harbor late on Monday 11 July.

Bayfield County Sheriff’s Office say that an elderly man drowned early on Tuesday 12 July when his vehicle was caught in the flooding. The victim, Delmar Johnson, was in the vehicle with his wife, Caryljean  Johnson, at the time. The Sheriff’s Office said:

“The vehicle drove into the flooded ditch along the highway and completely submerged in water. A firefighter from the Cable Fire Dept. was on scene and immediately rescued Caryljean from the vehicle and got her to safety. She was uninjured. The firefighter then went back into the water and was able to get Delmar Johnson out of the vehicle and water. Rescue efforts were made by Great Divide Ambulance Paramedics, but were unsuccessful. Delmar Johnson died from drowning. The accident is being investigated by the Bayfield Co. Sheriff’s Office.”

Earlier in day a Bayfield County deputy had a close escape when his vehicle when it was swept away by a powerful current of a flooded stream. The deputy managed to get out of his vehicle and was swept further downstream. He survived by hanging on to a tree for over 2 hours before he could be rescued. Conditions in and near the stream made the rescue extremely difficult. The deputy is currently in St. Mary’s hospital in Duluth in good condition.

Wisconsin Emergency Management reported on Tuesday emergency teams were carrying out the rescue of 33 people who were trapped trapped on Michigan Island in Lake Superior off Saxon Harbor in Iron County.

Flood damage in Iron County, Wisconsin. Photo: Iron County Sheriffs dept
Flood damage in Iron County, Wisconsin. Photo: Iron County Sheriffs dept
Flood damage in Saxon Harbor, Wisconsin. Photo: ReadyWisconsin / Civil Air Patrol
Flood damage in Saxon Harbor, Wisconsin. Photo: ReadyWisconsin / Civil Air Patrol
Flood damage in Ashland County, Wisconsin. Photo: ReadyWisconsin / Civil Air Patrol
Flood damage in Ashland County, Wisconsin. Photo: ReadyWisconsin / Civil Air Patrol
Flood damage in Ashland County, Wisconsin. Photo: ReadyWisconsin / Civil Air Patrol
Flood damage in Ashland County, Wisconsin. Photo: ReadyWisconsin / Civil Air Patrol

Minnesota

Local officials in Aitkin have declared a state of emergency following torrential rains and flooding. National Weather Service say that 6.13 inches (155 mm) of rain fell in 24 hours between 11 and 12 July.

Several roads in the area have been blocked and four camp sites situated near river banks have been evacuated.

Levels of the Mississippi River at Aitkin are causing concern. They currently stand at 13.51 feet and are expected to rise to around 15 feet (moderate flood stage) by Friday 15 July.

Flood warnings are in place in Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Benton counties.

Levels of the Mississippi River at Aitkin. Image: NOAA
Levels of the Mississippi River at Aitkin. Image: NOAA

Rainfall

National Weather Service in Duluth say that in a 24 hour period to 07:00 on 12 July, at least 9 locations recorded over 5 inches (127 mm) of rain.

  • Wascott, WI – 10 inches (254 mm)
  • Gurney, WI – 9.65″ (245 mm)
  • Hinckley, MN – 9.0″ (228 mm)
  • Brainerd, MN – 8.9″ (226 mm)
  • Willow River, MN – 7.0″ (177 mm)
  • Aitkin, MN – 6.13″ (155 mm)
  • Nisswa, MN – 5.6″ (142 mm)
  • Breezy Point, MN – 5.49″ (139 mm)
  • Wolford, MN – 5.25″ (133 mm)