Heavy flooding leaves extensive storm damage to homes and roads in Oconto County

Lifelong residents tell us they've never seen this kind of water damage before
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 5:15 PM CDT
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OCONTO COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Thursday night’s storm caused treacherous conditions across Oconto County.

Imagine you’re driving down County Road B, and then all of a sudden, the road just stops. Such was the case after a massive gap in the road washed away due to the pouring rain and a loosened culvert, which is a tunnel meant to carry a stream or open drain under a road.

“Oh crazy. It was just crazy,” Kevin Schutee, a motorcyclist from Porterfield, remembered as he drove around Oconto County and Peshtigo during the storm on Thursday night, May 12.

Lifelong residents in Oconto County along with Schutee say they have never seen this kind of water damage on the roads before.

Officials reported nearly two dozen closings and water hazards Friday. At this point officials have no idea how long repairs will take with this much water still on the roads.

“I don’t have a time frame as far as when these things are going to be fixed,” Sheriff Todd Skarban shared on Friday. “It could be weeks. It could be a month. When you have to replace culverts and that type of thing, I don’t know how readily you can just go and grab a culvert and install it. I don’t know how available they are right now.”

Governor Evers’s office tells Action 2 News it hasn’t received a request for a disaster declaration from the county yet, but the sheriff says a number of local municipalities have issued their own disaster proclamations.

Officials reporting nearly two dozen road closures and water hazards Friday.

Neighbors impacted by storms say the aftermath is unlike anything they’ve ever seen.

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Neighbors woke up to find their homes surrounded by water

“I was talking to [my friend] Jim in Pound and he has lived on the little river road right by his house there and it’s flooded through the bridge and there is probably 6 inches of water coming. Never in the 45 years that he has lived there he has never seen that much water come across the road. Never.”

Some people in the Oconto County area woke up to major flooding in their yards.

Several homes were impacted by the heavy rainfall, leaving residents to deal with the significant damage from the night before.

“I woke up, my girls were coming into my room and they told me that there was a pond in the yard, and I didn’t think anything of it. And when I went out onto the back deck, I saw this mess,” said Jenna Holl, Town of Spruce resident.

The mess that Jenna Holl describes was five of the seven acres around her home in the Town of Spruce, completely under water.

Holl says they’ve never had flooding like this before, for the three years her family has lived there.

“When it rains we’ve had puddles, but not lakes,” said Holl.

Her entire yard has been flooded, almost touching her house.

“We saw bluegill fish in our yard and this isn’t how it’s supposed to be, so we plan on fishing it maybe this afternoon,” Holl said.

Holl’s husband spent the day moving five of their trailers out of the water, and fishing through their yard to save tires and other valuable items.

Water also damaged five trucks behind their garage.

Holl was belly button deep as she walked through the water, trying to save things, like several birdhouses in the yard.

“Damage wise and the hours we’ve got to put it, I’d say we’re probably close to $80,000 worth of damage, if not more,” said Holl.

Now, all they can do is wait.

“We’re just hoping for the best. We don’t know where to go with the water right now, it’s the whole property,” Holl explained.

Neighbors on both sides of Holl’s house will continue helping each other out to try and salvage whatever else is left.

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Because of the high water, a number of county highways and roads throughout Oconto County Friday evening. (CLICK ON THE MAP TO SEE THE FULL-SIZE IMAGE.)

Oconto County road closures, as of 5 P.M. Friday, May 13, 2022
Oconto County road closures, as of 5 P.M. Friday, May 13, 2022(Oconto County Sheriff's Office)
Water was still rushing across roads on Friday
Megan Kernan and Annie Krall talk about covering the storm damage, the washed-out roads, and families living with a lake outside their homes.

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