During a special session on Tuesday, the Langlade County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in response to the massive rainfall and ensuing flooding that began in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The resolution is a declaration of a state of emergency for Langlade County due to flood and high water conditions. Such a resolution is permitted under state statute, allowing local government to declare an emergency when certain conditions arise, including a disaster that “impairs transportation.... or other critical systems of the local unit of government.”
Langlade County Emergency Management Director Cassie Doemel shared that in addition to the county, the townships of Price, Vilas and Langlade have also completed disaster declarations or proclamations, with the town of Peck likely to follow suit. These declarations are primarily driven by the damage that flowing water caused to public roadways, and the early damage estimates are significant.
“Preliminary assessments have reported approximately $264,500 in estimated damages to public property, and that number is expected to rise as some roadways are still impacted by high water levels,” Doemel said. “The Highway Department and town personnel are out attempting to resolve roadway issues as quickly as possible.”
The Emergency Management Facebook page features some eye-popping data about the Wolf River that dramatically illustrates the aquatic deluge. River flows are measured in cubic feet per second (CFS).
In the period of just over 24 hours from early Sunday morning through Monday morning, the Wolf River’s flow measured at Langlade more than tripled. The Wolf leapt from around 1,000 CFS to a peak of 3,000 CFS. The measurement on Thursday was around 1,700 CFS.
While the high water caused havoc throughout the county, several road closures were either ongoing or had a significant damage impact. These included County Road I between County Road H and Town Forest Road, County Road J between Forrest Road and Ormsby Road, and County Road B between County Road J and Koepenick Road. Polar Road leading to the Lawrence Lake boat landing was almost completely wiped out.
The County Board’s resolution will remain in effect as long as the emergency conditions exist, but no longer than 60 days. It concludes:
“While this declaration of emergency is in effect the county agencies having jurisdiction over systems impacted by flooding including but not limited to county roads and bridges, recreation trails, and navigable bodies of water, have the authority to order whatever is necessary and expedient for the health, safety, protection and welfare of persons and property.”