Businesses still recovering after devastating flood of 2008

Flood caused $763 million in damage
Businesses still recovering after devastating flood of 2008
Tom Holmes

At age 57, Tom and Sue Holmes had an important, unexpected decision to make.

On June 12, 2008, three days after Lake Delton broke through its banks and emptied into the Wisconsin River, it was still raining south of Baraboo. Clark Creek, which feeds off the Baraboo Bluffs, had turned from a bubbling brook to a raging river.

When debris dammed up the creek, floodwaters rushed into the Holmes’ home-building business, Glenville Timberwrights, on Highway 113. When the water receded, it left machinery covered in four feet of mud.

“Most people remember (what happened at) Lake Delton, but I think people around here in Baraboo remember what happened to us as well,” Tom Holmes said.

The couple said they considered selling what was left of the business but decided to rebuild along with many other business owners after the flood, which caused $763 million in damage statewide.

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The Holmes’ got loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Small Business Administration and Sauk County disaster relief funds. After six months as nomads, moving between properties, they opened their new shop.

Soon after, the couple faced a 100-year flood of a different kind when the housing market collapsed.

To make money while the residential housing market recovers, Glenville Timberwrights has been crafting park shelters, gazebos and some furniture.

“It’s been a kick in the gut, really, to have the impact of not only the flood, but the economic downturn,” Tom Holmes said. “We want to think positively about the future of this company.”

Holmes said they have maintained their seven-person payroll during the downturn.