MADISON, Wis. - Gov. Scott Walker signed an executive order Wednesday, which declares a state of emergency in seven counties, according to a release.
Walker declared the state of emergency after visiting the area where floodwaters affected 640 homes and did millions of dollars in damage to local infrastructure.
The counties include Ashland, Crawford, Grant, Iowa, Richland, St. Croix and Vernon, according to the release.
The expensive and time-consuming cleanup continues in Boscobel three days after the flooding receded, but Walker said the area probably won't qualify for federal relief.
"More realistically, it's going to be something where the state will play a direct role," Walker said. "FEMA has a higher standard and we'll be monitoring that, not only here but throughout the region, to see if (the damage qualifies for federal relief)."
The problem with that is FEMA assistance provides more blanket coverage, while perhaps one-third of people won't qualify for state assistance, said Steve Braun, the head of Grand County Emergency Management.
Walker urged people to take pictures and document the damage to their properties.
Walker couldn't give a timeline for when homeowners would receive financial relief through the state programs opened up by his executive order.
"It's not going to happen in the next day or two," Walker said. "We're in it for the long haul."
Walker has directed state agencies to aid those affected by the flooding and called the Wisconsin National Guard to state active duty to assist local authorities in the recovery efforts, according to the release.
The Department of Administration is directed to work with communities to make emergency assistance funds available to eligible homeowners for rehabilitation, funds for qualifying businesses, and funds to repair public infrastructure, according to the release.
The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection will work with affected farmers with crop damage and livestock shelter needs for assistance, according to the release. The Department of Natural Resources will provide assistance for residents and local governments concerned about well contamination.
The Office of Commissioner of Insurance will provide assistance for property owners who have been affected by flooding and need to file claims, according to the release. The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority will provide access to emergency funding for local assistance organizations giving assistance to affected residents.
The Department of Transportation will work with local communities to make funds available for infrastructure repair and the State Patrol will help manage road traffic and closures in affected areas, according to the release. The Department of Health Services will continue to be in contact with local health departments to provide assistance and monitor water-quality concerns.
Walker also said the state Department of Transportation and possibly the Wisconsin National Guard would be working to secure an area of Highway 61 in Crawford County that has experienced landslides.
The area remains a public safety threat and the road is still closed, Walker said.
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