Monday marks two weeks since torrential rainfall fell in the Northland, causing catastrophic flooding, several deaths and damage estimated at more than $46 million across Northwestern Wisconsin and in parts of Minnesota.

State and federal officials are scheduled to meet Monday in Madison to discuss the flood damage in Northwestern Wisconsin. Field teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Wisconsin Emergency Management are set to travel to the region on Tuesday to inspect the damage firsthand.

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The information they gather will be provided to Gov. Scott Walker, who then will determine whether to request a federal disaster declaration.

Communities have been concerned about the cost of repairs and whether state and federal aid will be forthcoming, said Luis Salas, chairman of the town of Sanborn in Ashland County.

"The towns have been ... put through such a limited budget that we do not have the resources to respond to an emergency need," he said.

In Minnesota, state emergency management officials said initial damage assessments still are underway in Carlton, Aitkin and Pine counties, among others, to determine whether the counties will be eligible for state disaster assistance for flood damage.

Damage estimates from Wisconsin include about $34.1 million for public infrastructure in 10 counties, on the Bad River Reservation and along Department of Natural Resources trails, and $2.4 million for homes affected by flooding.

And the July 11-12 flooding caused an estimated $10 million in damage to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, with Forest Service personnel having identified nearly 100 obstructions - washouts, damaged bridges, etc. - on roads and trails.

The national forest has received $900,000 from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for emergency repairs.

Parts of the forest remain inaccessible; find more information at fs.usda.gov/CNNF.

The hardest-hit county, financially, was Iron County, with an estimated $12.8 million in damage to public infrastructure - including severe damage at the Saxon Harbor marina and campground caused by floodwaters from Oronto Creek.

Salvage crews on Thursday removed the last known submerged boat from the harbor, one of several dozen vessels damaged or destroyed at the marina. One vessel, two vehicles and three camper trailers remained missing after the search was suspended.

Authorities reported Friday that Saxon Harbor will remain closed for the rest of the season, including the boat launches, marina and campground.

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reported Friday that it is continuing to assess several dozen homes on the reservation affected by flooding, ahead of the FEMA visit on Tuesday. Some bridges also remained closed late last week, pending damage assessments.

Also late last week, Wisconsin Department of Transportation crews reopened U.S. Highway 2 to all traffic between Ashland and Hurley, after repairing flood damage.

But two other major highways in the region - U.S. Highway 63 near Grand View in Bayfield County, and Wisconsin Highway 13 between Ashland and Mellen - remain closed. Detours are in place; repair work on Highway 63 is slated to be completed by mid-August, while repairs to Highway 13 may take several months.

Many town and county roads remain closed because of washouts.

Jan Victorson, Bayfield County emergency management coordinator, said one of the primary public safety issues that has arisen during the flood aftermath is keeping people off closed roads. She said people have moved barricades or driven around them - in one case resulting in a fatality. Roads are closed for a reason, she said to keep drivers safe.

"We need to help the public understand that they could create a dangerous situation by moving barricades," she said.

Victorson said the flooding also is serving as a reminder of how important it is to have food and water on hand in case severe weather strikes the area again.

"This is a teachable moment in some ways," she said.

 

Wisconsin Public Radio contributed to this report.