Boscobel residents move back home

Three months after flooding, elderly neighbors leave temporary apartments

Published On: Oct 09 2013 07:36:00 AM CDT   Updated On: Oct 09 2013 07:39:27 AM CDT
BOSCOBEL, Wis. -

Ann Pittsley was a nomad for more than three months. She lived with her niece for a while before being transferred to a temporary apartment filled with her son’s furniture after flooding struck the Boscobel area.

Tuesday, she started moving back to Willow Ridge.

“It's been all right, but it's not home because I was over there for almost seven years,” Pittsley said.

Pittsley watched from her walker as throngs of volunteers moved all of her belongings to her old apartment. The complex is subsidized for low-income residents, but she was able to live in the building just across a parking lot with the help of donations.

Pittsley remembers the day: June 22. It was the day rain submerged her apartment building, not to mention much of her town. The flooding prompted Gov. Scott Walker to tour the area and apply for FEMA relief.

“Everybody says this is the first time that this has ever happened,” Pittsley said.

Bea Randall couldn’t even wait for the volunteer movers and Grant County Emergency Management to come and help pack her things. As if she were Santa, she loaded up a plastic sled multiple times and dragged it across the grass and pavement and back home.

“I couldn't sleep nights just wondering how, when it was going to happen,” Randall said.

Randall’s living room is now covered in boxes and random belongings, but she knows it will all find its way back to the proper place.

"I just got used to this, and I liked it,” Randall said. “Now I like it better because everything is new.”

The entire Willow Ridge building had to be renovated for months after being flooded by about a foot of water in June. Randall and her neighbors got new carpets, fresh paint, and new cupboards.

Grant County Emergency Management director Steve Braun said there are still six or seven families that need to be moved in to that complex alone.

“The community's really come together to help make people whole again,” Braun said, “But we're not finished yet. There's still some work that needs to be done.”

Braun said he’s hoping for good news in the coming weeks. Both Grant County and the city of Boscobel applied for housing grants, each $500,000. That federal money would go toward repairs for people whose houses have serious structural damage.

Braun said because Boscobel isn’t on the flood plain, many people didn’t have flood damage covered in their insurance.

“It's something that can happen anywhere, and I think that's one of the messages that people need to get out of this is,” Braun said. “Flash flooding is something that can happen in neighborhoods you wouldn't expect it in.”