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More rain likely for southern WI; Lake Delton may remain empty for year; part of I-94 closed

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

Flood-ravaged Wisconsin is being told to brace itself.

The National Weather Service has issued another flash-flood watch in the southern half of the state for Thursday afternoon into Friday.

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Another cold front is supposed to move across Wisconsin on Thursday creating the possibility of more heavy rains statewide.

Forecasters are not saying how much we might get. In neighboring Minnesota, they're expecting up to three-more inches.

Southern Wisconsin is still reeling from up to 11-inches of rain last weekend.

Flood warnings continue along a dozen rivers.

The Kickapoo River is still 4.5 feet above its flood stage in Gays Mills in Crawford County, where the 200 people who evacuated were mostly the same ones who fled after similar floods 10 months ago.

There's also a chance of thunderstorms in today's (Wednesday) forecast. The Weather Service says northwest Wisconsin has the best chance of getting more rain.

High-water closes part of I-94

In what apparently is a first in Wisconsin history, part of an Interstate highway remains closed due to flooding concerns. I-94 near Johnson Creek was shut down after Tuesday's rush hour, when flood waters from the Rock River got to within six-inches of the road.

It threatened to flood a bridge west of Highway 26.

The eastbound lanes have higher elevations and are still open.

Almost 34,000 drivers use I-94 at Johnson Creek each day. Until the river recedes, they'll have a detour with Highways 26 and 89. It might be a couple days before the freeway re-opens.

The National Weather Service said the Rock River at Jefferson wouldn't crest until Thursday or Friday. It was three-feet above its flood stage late Tuesday.

Meanwhile, folks in Waukesha and Racine counties hope the Mukwonago Dam doesn't give way.

There was a threat of it Tuesday afternoon, but the dam held as of Tuesday night.

If it doesn't, more flooding from the Fox River could affect communities as far south as Waterford in Racine County.

On the Kickapoo River, dozens of roads remain closed over 110 in Vernon County alone. About 200 people in Gays Mills have been evacuated for the second time in 10 months. Two dozen are in a Red Cross shelter.

The flooding continued despite a sunny day in most of Wisconsin.

People in Reedsburg are worried about their water, after a treatment and an electric sub-station were damaged by flood waters.

The National Guard provided water and purification. Federal inspectors are due in Thursday to help the state estimate all the damage.

Empty Lake Delton a tourist attraction

Tourists are still flocking to Wisconsin Dells, some undoubtedly to see the damage caused when Lake Delton got flushed down the Wisconsin River.

About 160 people were in line Tuesday for the first Wisconsin Ducks' boat tour on the river.

Meanwhile, Lake Delton may be empty for some time.

A city official says an engineering plan is in place and that it won't take long to re-fill the lake.

However, that won't happen for awhile.

Lake Delton trustee Tom Diehl, who also runs the Tommy Bartlett Show on the lake, says it won't be refilled this year, but it will definitely return next season.

Diehl says there's nothing that could have been done to stop Sauk County Highway A from crumbling, sending the lake water and three houses down a makeshift channel and then down the river.

Andy Morton, of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, says it will take a major engineering effort to make the needed repairs.

But with 20 resorts on the lake, Governor Jim Doyle says it's got to be done as soon as practical.

The lots and homes which were lost had total market values of about $2 million. Officials say it could take $10 million to restore the lake.

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