The bill for last week’s storm and flood damage continues to rise, heading for $3 million or more in La Crosse County.

Towns, villages and the city of La Crosse are still working on estimates to submit to the Federal Emergency Management Administration after more than seven inches of rain fell on parts of the county overnight Wednesday. Roads were flooded or washed out, and parks were damaged by raging floodwaters from the storm.

The town of Shelby was hit hardest, with administrator Carroll Vizecky estimating damages of $2 million or more. A number of bridges washed out and sustain severe erosion damage, he said, as well as road right of ways and the streets themselves.

The damage was the worst in the bluffs, where runoff had the opportunity to pick up energy before eroding creek beds, blasting into culverts and damaging road surfaces. More than half the material supporting the bridge at Breidel Coulee Road near Hwy. 14/61 eroded away, while a bridge at West Heneke Road had water cross the roadway and strip rock material off the bridge, leaving a gaping hole nearly three feet deep.

A footbridge at Mormon Coulee Park, which was replaced in 2008 after a previous flood destroyed it, was pushed five degrees off its supports. That bridge is closed to traffic until it can be repaired.

The town is prioritizing road surface repair so that emergency vehicles can get out and assess the damage. Next up is clearing brush, so crews can get access to damaged roadways and other infrastructure. Then the bigger equipment can get in and go to work.

The city of La Crosse is estimating at least $200,000 in infrastructure damage from the storm, with the most serious being where a sinkhole caused the road failure at 23rd Street and Park Drive. Utilities Manager Mark Johnson said the cost estimate includes utilities and other road work, as well as cleaning up and hauling brush.

About $300,000 in damage is estimated at Forest Hills Golf Course, where a retention pond blew out and sent a wall of water rushing over the greens, sand traps and water hazards. It will cost another $80,000 to repair and replace damage from felled boulevard trees, Parks Supervisor Jay Odegaard said, and about $200,000 to clean up the trail system, which was hit hard by the rain and flowing water.

These estimates don’t include the marsh trails, which were still underwater on Tuesday. Repair work is underway, with the park department focusing on digging out drainage ponds and replacing the dike in Hixon behind the golf course.

“With that gone, we are sitting ducks for another storm,” Odegaard said. “Right now, we are really focused on erosion mitigation and control. We are preparing for anything else that might come this year.”

Onalaska is estimating the flood caused $80,000 in damage to three infrastructure projects, City Engineer and Director of Public Works Jarrod Holter said. The first involved water above the road in the Holiday Heights area, causing the city to erect a temporary dike.

There was outflow damage to Pond 17 located near I-90 and the Gundersen Health System clinic where a 9-foot pipe drains under the roadway into the pond. And the Well Street Reservoir near Main Street and Hwy. 53 was damaged by a washout that required back fill in order to be secured.

The city also had some street flooding due to a storm lift station failing to keep up with the amount of water. Sand Lake Road was also closed off for nearly two days after the flooding, which also affect Cedar Creek Golf Club.

The temporary dike was removed on Monday, Holter said, and reservoir repair continues. Repairing the damage at Pond 17 will probably go through the rest of the summer and into the fall as the city works on designs and bids on a fix.

“All things considered, Onalaska fared relatively well,” he said. “With all that rain, we didn’t see some of the hellacious damage other communities saw.”

The village of Holmen fared well, with no major street damage or flooding, village administrator Scott Heinig said. But there was significant damage to the Halfway Creek Trail System.

The rain caused the creek to rise 25 feet higher than normal, completely flooding the trail system and scattering downed trees, park equipment such as picnic tables and other debris miles downstream. Heinig estimates the damage could be between $50,000 and $70,000.

Roads and bridges in the town of Greenfield were damaged by the heavy rainfall and flood water, Town Clerk Lois Meinking said.

Nearly a week after the storm, Schmaltz Road is still restricted to one lane due to damage, she said, and needs new rip-rap and concrete to fill the void. There were more than 10 roads with damage in the town, with an estimate of $40,000 or more to fix.

It could cost as much as $80,000 to fix the damage in the town of Hamilton, board chairman Blaine Lee said. North Kinney Coulee Road caved in on one side after a culvert was exposed, there were wash-outs in the Briar Cliff addition, and a lot of road shoulders washed out, especially the hills.

The town is still in the process of letting things dry out, and then the plan is to get in and fix the damage, Lee said. But repairs can be costly in terms of overtime and hiring private contractors for the work the town can’t do on its own and could eat up as much as a quarter or half of the budget for the year.

“We only have so much money in the budget for road repair,” Lee said. “When you get a big storm, it hurts things quite a bit.”


Nathan Hansen has been the Education Reporter for the Tribune since 2014. Prior to that, he covered education, agriculture and business topics for the Winona Daily News. He is always on the lookout for news tips and can be contacted at 608-791-8234.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access for the month.

Now it's time to activate or sign up for unlimited access!

Thank you for signing up!

We have not been able to find your subscription.

Current Subscriber?

Current Subscriber?


Don't have a subscription?