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Hard hit areas brace for more rain; no flood insurance in Lake Delton; millions in crop losses

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news New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

Thunderstorms hit northern and western Wisconsin in the last 24 hours and today (Thursday) the flood-ravaged south will get soaked again.

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The National Weather Service has no reports of storm damage in the Badger State, but there's new flooding in Minnesota from the storms that are heading Wisconsin's way.

The weather service has a flash flood watch in effect in northwest Wisconsin until early afternoon.

The same watch begins later this afternoon for central and southern areas, running through Friday morning.

One forecaster predicted 1-to-2 inches of rain from this system and it won't have any place to go on land that's already saturated.

The NWS in Green Bay warns of damaging winds and torrential rains this afternoon for much of northeast and north central Wisconsin.

Ten rivers in the south continue to have flood warnings, including the Mississippi, which is four-inches above its flood stage at McGregor Iowa, near Prairie du Chien.

Meanwhile, the weather service now says a five-inch hail stone fell last Saturday in Delafield, just west of Pewaukee Lake.

No flood insurance in Lake Delton

The fallout is just beginning from the flushing of Lake Delton.

Wednesday, residents who lost million-dollar homes were steamed when they heard their village was not included in a free national flood-plain insurance program.

And various businesses - including the Tommy Bartlett Show - have been turned down by their insurance carriers for business interruption coverage.

Today, inspectors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will survey the flood damage from Lake Delton and other hard-hit parts of southern Wisconsin.

It will help state officials with their application for federal disaster aid.

Lake Delton's insurance snafu dates back to 2001, when the village pulled out of FEMA's flood-plain coverage. They said it was because the agency's elevation maps were grossly inaccurate.

Last year, FEMA said it would revise its maps, based on new engineering techniques and the village just started the process of re-applying for FEMA's flood-plain coverage two weeks ago.

Lake Delton Village President Frank Kaminski is not saying much about it. Tim Fromm, who lost his lakeside home, said there would probably be a lot of lawsuits.

Insurance companies flooded

Wisconsin's largest home insurer has 4,000 damage claims for this week's floods in the Badger State.

American Family of Madison insures about a quarter of all Wisconsin homes - and they expect to hear from more of their customers.

The same is true for State Farm, the state's No. 2 insurer, which has 18,000 claims and rising.

Most of American Family's claims are in the Milwaukee area.

West Bend Mutual Insurance has had about 600 claims. It figures to spend $5-$6 million to make its customers whole again.

North Shore Bank of Brookfield says it will make $10 million available for low-interest disaster loans.

Crop losses

Federal FEMA inspectors will get an eyeful of water damage and washed-out highways in southern Wisconsin today.

What they won't see are the tens of millions of dollars in crops that won't get grown and farm products that won't get sold.

Ben Brancel of the federal Farm Service Agency has flooding reports from 15 Wisconsin counties.

Nobody has official damage estimates yet, but Dane County extension agent David Fischer says farmers in that county alone have at least $20 million in total losses.

Joe Bollman of Jefferson County says the farm damage could be $18-$20 million and that's without the damage that might come today, when more storms are due in.

John Baird of the Crawford County Farm Service Agency says crop insurance won't cover the full amount of lost commodities that would have been sold this year.

That's because the insurance works off price estimates from several years - before high oil prices drove them up.

It could also mean even higher prices at the grocery store for the rest of us.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has lowered its estimate of corn production because of the rains. It's now 10-percent less than last fall's harvest.

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