An official disaster
FEMA declaration enables money for county residents

By JUSTIN KERN - GM Today Staff 

June 19, 2008

Trash and debris collects near a floating dock on the Fox River in Waukesha as Dave Kragenbrink, left, and his family, from left, Bobbie, Jessica, 5, Megan, 12, and Rachel, 10, walk along a trail Wednesday.

WAUKESHA - It’s official - last week’s storms left Waukesha County a disaster.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Wednesday that President Bush would include five more Wisconsin counties, including Waukesha, in a disaster declaration because of flooding and storms that recently socked the region. That status opens up the option for grants and low-interest loans for people recovering from thunderstorms that soaked the county with up to 8 inches of rain in some spots.

Municipal estimates for the damage are now at $87.7 million, up another $3.2 million from earlier in the week, though that total remains fluid, said County Executive Dan Vrakas. The public land and expense portion of that overall cost is approaching $4 million, and FEMA officials will be back again next week to set up a reporting center and to assess municipal bridges, roads and waterways, said Vrakas’ chief of staff, Allison Bussler.

In reviewing the area Monday and Tuesday, FEMA crews visited Pewaukee and its swollen lake that continues to flow into the downtown, town of Summit neighborhoods under water from a nearby breached dam, Phantom Lake’s threatened dam in Mukwonago and the raging Fox River in Waukesha.

"We saw some properties that were severely damaged, destroyed, some properties that had blown out walls, properties that had been tagged by fire marshals across the county as uninhabitable ... ," Vrakas said.




Residents can now just report flooding damages to FEMA through a phone number or Web site or, later, an emergency center established in the county, Bussler said. FEMA will make money available for individual recovery efforts and basic needs such as home repair and temporary housing costs, according to a news release from Vrakas. Also, the Small Business Administration, which observed damages here, too, will make low-interest loans available to renters, homeowners, business owners and nonprofit organizations that suffered losses.

For full story, go to the electronic version of The Freeman. Click here to access the electronic version.   

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

Justin Kern can be reached at

This story appeared in The Freeman on June 19, 2008.