Six decades after the last major flood, La Crosse is not resting

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (AP) – The town of La Crosse has not experienced a flood that triggered a flood insurance claim in nearly six decades, but Sarah Rafajko doesn’t want the townspeople to become complacent.

“Just because we haven’t had major flooding since 1965 doesn’t mean we never will,” said Rafajko, the city’s floodplain manager and chronic nuisance technician. “A flood can happen at any time. “

The city seeks to anticipate any potential flooding problem by developing a flood risk mitigation plan. Government officials and city-hired consultants met at the Black River Beach Neighborhood Center to present information and answer questions. The exhibits included floodplain maps, mitigation techniques, and information on flood compliance and flood insurance.

Town of La Crosse Director of Utilities Bernard Lenz said the goal was “a well thought out approach to protect the town from flooding.” There are a lot of ways to do this. “

Although the city that borders Minnesota has not experienced catastrophic and widespread flooding recently, water problems remain. Flooding from the streets, proximity to the Mississippi, Black and La Crosse rivers and runoff from cliffs east of the city all present dangers, reported La Crosse Tribune.

Rafajko said older structures are a concern. She said many were built before modern flood mitigation practices.

“The biggest concern is the aging housing market,” she said. “We have houses with basements that shouldn’t have basements. “

She said green spaces and wetlands are important parts of any mitigation plan.

“Any green space is beneficial, especially when it is in a floodplain,” she said.

Alex Le of the US Army Corps of Engineers said awareness is essential for owners.

“They should know where they are in the floodplain to know what kind of risk they face,” Le said.

Rafajko said the mitigation plans are important because the city is eligible for federal funding with an approved plan in place. Projects eligible for funding include house relocation and storm sewer replacement.

Those who were unable to attend the open house can still share their comments via a poll posted on the project’s website. The process is still in its early stages, but city officials hope to have a plan ready within a year.

“There are a lot of regulations for living in a floodplain, and for good reason,” Rafajko said. “My personal goal is to get a feel for the community’s perceptions of life in a floodplain and what it entails. “

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About Steve Rundio

Rundio wrote this for La Crosse Tribune.

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