With Floodwaters, Came Courage and Generosity
By: Congressman Ron Kind
No one could have expected the recent flooding that took place in Wisconsin. Homes and businesses, schools, crop fields and churches destroyed; dozens of communities and the spirit of many - devastated.
But it is important to remember that in the midst of all the tragedy there were many stories of great strength and inspiration:
John Nuzum owns a lumber company in La Farge. At the peak of the flood, he was standing outside in waist-deep water, wondering, "Where in the world do I start? How am I going to salvage this?" Just then, he looked up to see 30 Amish men wading through the water toward him. "We're here to help," they said.
In a fit of great irony, as the waters continued to rise in Avoca, a house fire broke out. With water all around them, the volunteer firefighters stood in the rising Wisconsin River fighting a fire. They did as volunteer firefighters across Wisconsin did - they risked the destruction of their own homes to answer the call of duty and help their neighbors.
The fire chief in Wonewoc said he knows pretty much everyone in the small town of about 900 people. But he didn't recognize half the people who were helping out the families by sandbagging last week. People from surrounding communities had reached out to them and come to their aid.
These stories demonstrate courage and generosity that was displayed by citizens across our great state.
In true Wisconsin fashion, the response to this emergency was quick and coordinated - a testament to the hard work of local and state officials, Wisconsin Emergency Management, the State Patrol, as well as non-governmental organizations and private companies who all came together on behalf of flood victims. By the grace of God and because of this wonderful response, we were fortunate that no lives were lost.
The Wisconsin National Guard also gave a much needed sense of relief to the communities they visited. We ask a lot of these men and women - especially right now - and these brave individuals are pillars of service to their state and nation.
Families helping families, neighbors helping neighbors, complete strangers coming together - this is the Wisconsin way. And we'll see as the flood waters recede that our work is just beginning. Many are returning to their homes and communities thinking, like Mr. Nuzum, "Where do I start?"
On the federal level, we are doing all that we can to make sure funding is available for families, farmers, and businesses to rebuild. During times of natural disaster we are "one nation, indivisible," so last Thursday, the House passed $2.65 billion that will go to help aid those affected by the Midwest floods. With the help of Governor Doyle we have received federal disaster declarations for 22 counties, and more will follow. And as always, my office will be a resource to those who need counsel on where to look for assistance, and I stand ready to support the needs of the communities in western Wisconsin.
Ten months ago, when the floods hit western Wisconsin we thought we had weathered our "hundred-year" storm, only to get hit again - even harder - before we had fully recovered. Mother Nature certainly has not been kind to Wisconsin this past year. But Vince Lombardi once said, "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up." And if there is anything to be said about the people of Wisconsin, it's that we always get up.
I look forward to working together with the communities in western Wisconsin to "get up" and move forward.