Kickapoo River rises in community still recovering from summer flooding

Streets are barricaded throughout Vernon County as water rushed over dozens of roadways Friday. The Kickapoo River nearly tripled its height since Tuesday, according to data from the National Weather Service.

Vernon County Emergency Management Director Brandon Larson was traveling around the area surveying the flooding.

“We’re managing as best we can. There’s not much else we can do right now,” said Larson, as he headed through Ontario.

Part of State Highway 131 was closed Thursday afternoon and into the early morning Friday because of high water, according to the Ontario Police Department. The water receded, but other areas still had rushing water.

“State highways are closed in La Farge, as well as the way to Viola. It’s closed now,” Larson said. The most updated list of road closures in the county can be found here.

Down the road in La Farge, Kelly Williamson and her son Nevin have been watching the river carefully.

“This morning we looked outside and [saw] our beautiful lake view again,” said Williamson as she looked into what should be her backyard.

By noon, the Kickapoo River was right around crest level at 13.25 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

“It’d be OK if it was once in a while and it was surprising to people. Unfortunately, it’s not surprising anymore,” Williamson said.

During the summer flooding, the same point in the river just outside their house reached an unofficial crest of 19.4 feet. Thankfully, they’re up on a hill.

“It wasn’t that bad compared to what other people had to go through. So we consider ourselves lucky. We had a little water in the basement. But that’s about it,” Williamson said.

They’ve fared well this time again, except for when their power went out. For now, she’s thinking about the rest of the town.

“I worry about what’s going to happen downstream and how it’s going to affect friends of ours,” Williamson said.

But there may be some hope that conditions could improve.

“With it being in the 20s at night forecasted for the next week, and in the mid-30s to almost 40 in the day, that’s going to slow things down quite a bit I think. That’ll help,” Larson said.

The Kickapoo River is starting to fall, according to the latest data from the weather service. However, many roads throughout Vernon County remain closed because of high waters.

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