Wisconsin Levee Crumbles

Total failure of 120-year-old system threatens 100 homes
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Sep 27, 2010 1:20 AM CDT
Updated Sep 27, 2010 1:37 PM CDT

(Newser) – A 120-year-old levee along the Wisconsin River has failed, officials confirmed for CNN, following record flooding. Hundreds of Wisconsin residents fled their homes yesterday after Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources predicted "imminent" total failure of the 14-mile system. An emergency worker said late yesterday that flooding in a particularly hard-hit section in the central town of Portage was already so bad that "anyone in there right now won't be able to come out."

The river crested at midnight at 20.56 feet, 3.5 feet over flood stage, after storms dumped 11 inches of rain on Wisconsin and Minnesota. The inundation has overwhelmed a "relic" levee system, which was built in the 1890s with little more than sand bags and no "engineering design or adherence to any standards," DNR said in a statement.
(Read more Wisconsin stories.)

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