Madison fire knocks out counties' records systems

Published: Jul. 19, 2019 at 5:13 PM CDT
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A major power outage in Madison, caused by two substation fires, has crippled some county offices statewide.

Normally one of the busiest times of the week in the Brown County Clerk's Office, Friday afternoon was pretty quiet.

"A couple of our staff was able to take a Friday off, which is highly unusual because typically we are busy on Fridays," says Clerk, Sandy Juno.

But it's not just the Clerk's Office, Register of Deeds is slow too. Both offices, are just some of the several, in each county statewide, unable to work with customers who need paperwork processed.

According to Sara Frisque, Chief Deputy Register of Deeds in Brown County, "This is the first time that we've been down for an entire day, other than sometimes we'll be down for an hour or so, so this is a huge deal."

The fire in Madison, that knocked out power to state office buildings, forced the shutdown of the statewide computer system. That system is used by each county in Wisconsin to process things like marriage licenses as well as birth and death certificates.

"Unfortunately, our office runs off the Statewide Vital Records Indexing System, SVRIS, and when they're down, we're down as well," adds Frisque.

Brown County says as soon as it learned about the outage, it announced the news publicly, in order to prevent people from making the trip to the county office building, only to find out they're unable to get their paperwork processed. The early announcement seemed to reach most people, though some did still show up hoping to accomplish their business.

Juno adds, "The few people that have come in, and it was early this morning before the notice did get out, have all been very understanding."

County officials hope the computer system is back up and running by Monday.