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Dam breach in Manawa

A storm on Friday, July 5, caused the dam at the Manawa Mill Pond to breach and flooding to occur in the city of Manawa.
Emily Controy Photo

Ongoing impact on community

By Emily Conroy

The Mid-Western Rodeo, Manawa’s largest tourist attraction, was cancelled due to unsafe condition in the city.

The city of Manawa was flooded this past weekend after torrential rainfall caused the Manawa dam to be breached.

Manawa Police Chief Jason Severson said 5.69 inches of rain fell in a matter of four hours on Friday, July 5, flooding streets and homes.

This amount of rain going into the Manawa Mill Pond put pressure on the Manawa dam. Water pushed so hard that the soil on the north side of the dam started to erode, eventually giving way.

The city strongly encouraged residents down river to leave their homes before flooding could become dangerous.

The Manawa Mill pond after the north side of the dam was breached and the Liitle Wolf River flooded Friday, July 5. Photo courtesy of Jay Stolp with Polar Lights Imaging

Residents at the Manawa Nursing Home were evacuated to the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King, while emergency shelters were set up at the Masonic Lodge and Little Wolf High School.

A “boil water advisory” was immediately put into place. Although city officials did not believe any wells or water lines twere compromised, they did not want to take a chance with all the potential contaminants.

“The advisory is more precautionary than anything else, you don’t want to mess with health,” Mayor Mike Frazier said.

Amongst the damage was Lindsay Park, which is now closed indefinitely, according to Josh Smith, head of the department of public works and fire chief.

The park is down river from the wastewater treatment plant which flooded Friday and flowed into the park.

Smith said on average the waste water treatment plant pumps 200,000 to 300,000 gallons per day. When the gauge was checked Saturday morning it was found the plant had pumped over a million gallons throughout the previous day.

At noon this past Saturday city officials were giving out cases of water to citizens, however the water advisory was lifted before 8 p.m. that evening.

A motorist drove their car into a washed out section of Beech Street in Manawa, following the July 5 storm. Emily Conroy Photo

Along with the dam breach and flooding, came damage to roadways making some of the roads more dangerous than others.

Smith said the roads should all be passable as of July 6, but the stretch of County Trunk N is adjacent to the Manawa Mill pond eroded away past the guardrail, making that stretch dangerous to pass. On the opposite side of the road the culverts received a large amount of damage.

A representative from the Waupaca County Highway Department estimated the damage to County N in Manawa to be over $100,000.

County N was restricted to one lane of traffic in order for motorists to stay away from the potentially hazardous erosion on the mill pond side.

Beech Street also saw a portion of the road washed out. An unfortunate motorist drove into the washout as the flooding was still happening. There is currently a 6-ton weight limit restriction placed on Beech Street.

Smith said the construction on Walnut and Factory Streets should only be pushed back about a week.

Overall, Frazier said it could have been worse and now the city is concentrating on clean up.

“The most important thing is that no one was hurt, we can fix all of this,” he said. “If the community needs anything please call.”

In a post on Facebook July 8 the City of Manawa posted there will be brush pick up scheduled for July 17, as well as a dumpster available behind the Little Wolf High School, the times and dates it will be open is still being determined.

The post from the city went on to say that the dam breach and flooding will not qualify for FEMA funding, so all residents with damage will have to contend with their own home owners insurance, however there are Red Cross clean up kits available at City Hall, Sturm Memorial Library and at the Little Wolf High School.

Any questions or if residents need any assistance with hauling items they are encouraged to call City Hall at 920-596-2577.
Cedar Corporation engineers as well as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will continue to assess the damage over the next couple weeks.

As of right now, Smith said they are concentrating on the immediate damage and making the city safe from any potential hazards.

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