Preparing for more flooding

Preparing for more flooding

This weekend's forecast is not promising for flooding downtown. Here are some updates about what we're expecting, what you should plan for if you are downtown, what you can do to help, and more resources you should have at your fingertips. Follow #DCFlood on Twitter, @DaneCountyEM for further updates, and our DCFlood Website for up to date info.

What We're Expecting

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  • At this point, County emergency management staff and our engineering teams are not worried that Tenney Dam + Locks are at risk of failure. The locks are entirely open in order to move water downstream from Lake Mendota to Lake Monona. Expect the Yahara River to go up 3" - 6". Expect Lake Monona to rise 3" - 5". The County has brought all necessary equipment and materials for repairs to the dam in case of emergency.
  • We are anticipating flash flooding in downtown Madison. The City of Madison has released these maps as an indicator of what we can expect. If you're located in these parcels, make sure you have a plan (see below). 
  • We already have a flood warning for the dam floodgate release, which is flooding streets on the near east side. 

Make A Plan

This is an incredible resource for preparing for an emergency

  • How will you receive emergency alerts and news? 

    • The Wireless Emergency Alert System created and maintained through FEMA, mobile carriers, and the FCC, will send emergency alerts to all mobile phones within a certain geographic area.  You will not be charged for this.

    • If you are outside and hear the emergency sirens, you need to seek shelter immediately and use TV or Radio to find more information.

    • Go here to sign up for email/social media alerts from Dane County Emergency Management.

  • What is your shelter plan?

    • If you're concerned about mobility, need confidence in your power, or would generally feel more comfortable outside of the floodplain - consider staying with family or friends outside of Downtown Madison, or staying in a hotel if that's an option.

    • West High School is open as a shelter through American Red Cross, as well as Glacier Creek Middle School in Cross Plains, Mazomanie Elementary School.

    • If you're sheltering in place, have a plan for higher ground that you can access by foot in case of flash flooding around you.

  • What is your evacuation plan?

    • If there is a possibility of flash flooding, do not wait for instructions to move - immediately find higher ground (on foot).

    • If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Use one vehicle, if it's safe to drive, to reduce traffic and avoid getting separated.

    • Do not walk through moving water - only six inches of water can knock over an adult.

    • Six inches of water will also reach the bottom of most cars, causing loss of control and stalling. 

    • Do not drive around a barricade.

    • From The Emergency Management Department: "A foot of water will float many vehicles. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups. Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away." We've already lost a community member due to floodwaters and automobile complications. Remember > Don't drown, turn around.

  • Preparing for an Evacuation

    • Identify where you'll go, including somewhere you can bring pets, if applicable.

    • Be familiar with alternate routes in and out, as barricades and traffic may present problems.

    • Assemble supplies that are ready for evacuation, including medication, medical equipment, food, charging devices, flashlights, money, etc.

    • Close and lock all doors and windows.

    • Store essential items in waterproof containers.

    • Turn off your utilities if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances if you are not wet or standing in water.

    • Leave a note telling others where you went, if your family is not all together and you're unable to get in touch with them.

    • Wear sturdy shoes - the most common flood injuries are lacerations.

    • Check with neighbors who may need a ride. 

How You Can Help

  • Every sandbagging location could use help bagging and placing sand. Show up with a shovel and some muscle.

  • If you'd like to provide assistance in rural Dane County, report to the Mazomanie Fire Department at 8am any day through the weekend and next week. The coordinators will put you to work anytime from 8am to dark. If you have any time to spare, your help would be appreciated. Call 608-644-6411 with any questions.

  • The best thing you can do right now is check on your neighbors. Particularly our senior neighbors who need help drying out items in basements, may not have the mobility to get new food or seek medical care, etc. Please visit three neighbors this week and ask what they need. Reach out to myself or your alder for help.


  • City of Madison > How to Prepare for a Flood

  • Sandbag locations and updates

  • Informacion en Espanol
  • Evacuation Routes > Near East Isthmus
  • Evacuation Routes > Isthmus
  • Terms to know
    • Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune into NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
    • Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
    • Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
    • Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
    • Flood versus Flash Flood: Flooding is a longer term event than flash flooding: it may last days or weeks. Flash flooding is a flood caused by heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, generally less than 6 hours. Flash floods are usually characterized by raging torrents after heavy rains that rip through river beds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everything before them. They can occur within minutes or a few hours of excessive rainfall. (source: NWS)
  • Multi Agency Resource Centers open TODAY in Mazomanie and SATURDAY in Middleton.
  • Following a flood, the American Red Cross, Badger Chapter and the Salvation Army can provide vouchers for emergency items, such as temporary housing, medication, cooking utensils, and basic household furnishings.
  • The Dane County Sheriff’s Office will take referrals to check on disabled or elderly persons in possible danger.
  • The Area Agency of Aging can provide support and referrals for the elderly.
  • Storage: U-Haul is offering 30 days free self-storage to those affected from the flood in Madison. 

I'll send out more "After the Flood" resources later this weekend, but as much as possible, start drying out your spaces and reporting personal property damage to United Way 2-1-1. 

Post-Flooding Recovery Steps

Post-Flooding Recovery Steps

Emergency Management + Record Rainfall

Emergency Management + Record Rainfall