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Flooding

Flood waters caused washout of the tracks at the Great Northern Railway in Wisconsin Dells.

Two bridges in northwestern Dane County that were washed out by recent flooding are scheduled to be repaired by November, Gov. Scott Walker said Friday.

Walker announced $2.8 million in emergency contracts have been awarded to reconstruct the bridges for Highway 14 in Black Earth that were heavily damaged in flooding in August.

Additionally, Walker announced two state agencies will provide $4 million in no-interest or forgivable loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from the historic flooding.

Walker is also requesting FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, do a preliminary damage assessment beginning Sept. 24, which would be the first step in getting a federal disaster declaration made for Wisconsin so federal help can be given.

Damage estimates statewide totaled over $209 million as of Sept. 6, but affected residents and businesses had until Friday to report damages, so a final damage amount has not been calculated yet.

The work to replace the two Black Earth bridges is underway, with completion of the work expected in mid-November.

The $2.8 million emergency contract was awarded to Kraemer North America in Plain as the primary contractor.

Walker also announced two programs for flood cleanup, one from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority and the other from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

WHEDA is making $2 million available through the Flood Relief Loan program, giving no-interest loans of up to $10,000 to repair homes damaged by flooding.

WEDC is setting up a $2 million Disaster Recovery Microloan Program as an immediate source of funds for businesses to pay for restoration and other expenses due to flooding.

“While the floodwaters have receded, we know hundreds of businesses and homeowners are still dealing with the costs associated with the flooding that hit much of the state,” Walker said in Coon Valley on Friday.

“We are implementing these new programs to give residents and business owners an immediate source of funds to make needed repairs, without having to cut through a lot of red tape.”

Homeowners will be able to get up to $10,000 to repair flood damage, such as new heating or electrical systems or foundation work.

The no-interest loans will be secured by a subordinate mortgage on the home.

“Although periodic payments are not required, repayment would be due upon the sale of the home during the first 10 years,” WHEDA said. “The loan will be forgiven if not repaid within 10 years.”

To apply for a WHEDA flood relief loan, call 800-562-5546.

Business owners will be able to get up to $15,000 in a microloan from WEDC’s regional partners, such as the Madison Region Economic Partnership and the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.

The loans are to be used as short-term funding for repair work and operating costs until long-term funding is secured by the business owner.

“The no-interest loans have a two-year repayment period, with payments deferred for at least six months,” WEDC said. “The loans can also be forgivable.”

Eligible businesses must be located in or next to a region where a regional partner got funding for the program, must have measurable physical damage due to the flooding and must intend to resume operations as quickly as possible.

Disaster recovery regional contacts can be found online at wedc.org/disasterrecovery.

“This new program provides an immediate source of funds to help impacted businesses quickly recover from this disaster,” WEDC CEO Mark Hogan said.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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