It takes a village: Coon Valley comes together to clean up after flood

Coon Valley residents continue to clean up and salvage any of their possessions that weren’t destroyed by the flooding.

Floodwaters rose, in some cases, to the second story of homes in low lying areas of the village. It was hard to see the damage to the roadways when Joshua Blum with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation first surveyed several communities Tuesday.

“There were areas where there were six feet of water over the road, so it was tough to see what the roads did look like,” said Blum, the area maintenance coordinator for WisDOT.

Now that the DOT can get a better idea of what they’re dealing with, crews were able to start repairing the bridge on Highway 14 going into Coon Valley early Wednesday.

“We’ll backfill the road with material and have the beam guard back up and then we’ll be able to get this back up,” Blum said.

Marty Gunderson had come into the village Monday night to help before the flooding hit.

“I came back into Coon Valley again and parked in what I thought was a safe space,” Gunderson said, as his car was being towed.

When he returned to the car, he looked inside to see the vehicle filled with mud.

“The mud was over the seat, top of the seat. And I pulled my sunglasses out of the visor and there was mud up there too,” Gunderson said.

But Gunderson said his experience with the flooding was nothing compared to some others.

“The basement flooded to the ceiling,” said Mark Andre, who lives on Central Avenue.

Water rushed into Andre’s home, bringing thick mud with it.

“We lost everything in the basement. Everything,” Andre said.

As he did the night of the flood, he could see how people in the community were supporting each other any way they could.

“Everybody is trying to help out as much as they can, because they also have damage to their house,” Andre said.

A neighbor helped Andre bring up buckets of solid mud. Now, he was just waiting for the Westby football team, which was coming to helping the community with cleanup efforts, to dump it out.

“I’m leaving the big stuff for them,” Andre said.

There are other examples of community members pitching in. Current and former staff members of the Westby Area School District are going door-to-door to see which residents need help. They are planning on using that information to tell volunteers where to offer assistance.