Flooding strikes northern Oconto County

Roads buckle, schools close, deputy escapes after harrowing accident
NEW Media Staff

An Oconto County sheriff’s deputy escaped injury May 12 when the pavement collapsed under the road he was traveling because of floodwaters.

In a news release, Sheriff Todd Skarban said the deputy was responding to assist with a vehicle that had been struck by a falling tree on Sleeter Road.

The incident occurred around 8:50 p.m. while the deputy was traveling west on County Road A east of Erickson Road in the Town of Maple Valley.

“The floodwaters had undermined a 4-foot section of culvert pipe,” Skarban said. “As the squad drove over the culvert area, the pavement gave way, causing the squad to crash into the water and side of the washout.”

The deputy was able to get out of the squad to safety with his canine in tow, Skarban said. A highway department worker also helped the deputy at the scene.

“Mother Nature is not to be trifled with,” Skarban said. “I would like to thank our citizens and the media for heeding the warning and staying away from the affected areas.”

Severe thunderstorms and high winds struck northern Oconto County shortly before sunset May 12, with 5 or 6 inches of rain that caused flash flooding in several areas.

County officials declared a flood emergency and closed several stretches of road to traffic: Lee Lake Road between Brazeau Town Hall and County Road B; County Road B from west County Road A to west County Road M; County Road A from state Highway 32 to County Road G; Arndt Road between North Porcupine Lake Road and County Road B; County Road M between the Oconto River and Red Bank Road; County Road K from County Road A to County Road M; Erickson Road; Brock Road; County Road V from Highway 32 south to Tillman Road; and Goldhorn Road west of County Road Q.

The Suring, Gillett, Oconto Falls and Coleman school districts canceled classes, citing road damage across the area.

Oconto County Public Health warned residents with private wells that may have been impacted by the flooding to take appropriate safety measures.

Owners who believe their wells may have been contaminated by flood water were cautioned not to use their water for cooking, drinking, bathing or handwashing. Instead they should use water from safe sources such as bottled water,
tap water that has been boiled for one minute, or water from a well that was not flooded.

For information about testing and disinfecting wells, visit https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/flood/water.htm