Local resident Steve Zowin said the water drained like a bathtub. The Wisconsin Dells calls itself the "waterpark capital of the world," but on Monday, when torrential rains caused Lake Delton to tear through an embankment, ripping apart Highway A and draining into the Wisconsin River, that waterpark capital is now a disaster area. Resorts are seeing cancellations - Zowin said his business is down at least 75%, which is huge - and another resident said that fishing will be gone for at least the next five or six years from Lake Delton.
But there is more bad news for local residents. Yes, not only did they lose homes, not only are they losing business because of the empty lake. Yesterday they learned that Lake Delton is Not Covered by National Flood Insurance.
The homes would have been covered by the National Flood Insurance program since 1975, but the village didn't adopt a new floodplain map. The village lost its floodplain designation by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and its eligibility to participate in the National Flood Insurance program.So even though Lake Delton is a disaster area, it's not a Federal Disaster Area, and won't receive funds from FEMA. FEMA suspended the village from eligibility in the program seven years ago after the village failed to formally adopt an updated floodplain map called a Flood Insurance Rate Map, or FIRM. Lake Delton's village clerk and engineer said the map was not adopted because of "gross inaccuracies" in how FEMA expanded the floodplain.
FEMA said the village had three years to appeal the map, but never did file such an appeal. There is no record of a formal map revision petition from the village; Lake Delton was suspended, making homeowners inelligiable for flood insurance. And in a classic case of government officials pointing fingers at each other, the people suffer. This flood is not a flood. This flood is a Catostrophic Event. Yet the people suffer.
As we look at weather events globally - I'm only talking about hurricanes, cyclones, torrential rains, all causing these catastrophic events - I have to wonder at how much we have contributed to weather gone wild. Even more, I am appalled at government's callous disregard for the citizens whose lives are devastated by these events. But when that disregard is further impaired by misjudgment, mismanagement, greed and just plain stupidity, I become angry.
There are solutions that the United States can implement. Frankly, with a serious recession upon us, we could look to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's example of programs put forth in The New Deal. I think we could specifically look at The CCC, or Civilian Conservation Corps, which put unskilled, unemployed young men to work building roads, levees, and repairing the infrastructure. Perhaps, if we stopped spending money we don't have on an illegal war in Iraq, we might get to spend some of it on our failing infrastructures at home.
We've got a clear choice between Barack Obama and John McCain. McCain is more of the "heckuva job, Brownie" school of disregard. Obama will get things done.