Eastern Wisconsin community evacuated after dam bursts due to flooding


MANAWA, Wis. (AP) — A dam broke in an eastern Wisconsin community, forcing people living downstream to evacuate, the National Weather Service said Friday.

The dam in Manawa on the Little Wolf River was breached by floodwaters at about 1:45 p.m., said meteorologist Scott Cultice. The town has about 1,200 residents. It was not immediately clear how many people were evacuated.

Manawa Police Chief Jason Severson estimated that a 50-foot-wide area around the dam had eroded.

Eventually, the floodgates on the dam were opened to release water and relieve pressure on the structure, officials said.

“It looks like the dam is intact, but there is quite a bit of erosion on the north side,” Severson told reporters Friday afternoon. “We think the worst is over. Now we’ll assess the situation and see how it goes.”

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As erosion worsened, authorities began evacuating some homes, he said.

Rainfall began around 8:30 a.m. Friday and within a few hours, about five inches fell. A flash flood warning was issued for Manawa and other parts of Waupaca County.

“It just didn’t stop raining in and around Manawa,” Cultice said. “They had to do water rescues. Most of the streets downtown were flooded.”

“We just can’t get rid of the rain,” he added. “It just doesn’t move, it just stalls.”

Emergency accommodation was set up in a secondary school and a Masonic center.

“Due to the amount of water, the dam is not safe,” Manawa police said on their Facebook page.

All access roads to the town of Manawa, about 88 kilometers west of Green Bay, have also been closed, the city said in a post on its Facebook page.

“Please do not attempt to drive into or around the city,” the post said. “Vehicles are being flooded on the roads surrounding the city. Union Street is flooded. N. Bridge Street is flooded. Beech Street is washed away. Howard Street is flooded. Industrial Drive is flooded.”

“Due to the amount of rain we are currently having, there will be flooding in the streets and yards,” the post continued. “Flooding is occurring all over the city.”

The weather service warns that there could be rain and possible thunderstorms all weekend and into early next week.

This story has been corrected to show that Manawa is in eastern Wisconsin, not southeastern Wisconsin.

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