Viterbo students help single mom recover from flooding

Viterbo University students braved the cold to help a single mom in La Farge recover from August’s flooding.

August’s flooding caused a lot of water, mold and mud damage, but it also left a lot of debris in its wake.

Viterbo student Abbi Strait led a team of students in today’s cleanup.

She wanted to do something positive for the community.

“Going out, serving people, serving the community, the environment, whatever we can do, wherever there’s a need,” Strait said.

Today is extra special for Strait, because she grew up just down the road.

“It means a lot to me to be back here and helping,” Strait said.

She didn’t really appreciate growing up in La Farge until she left.

“When I first left my small town, I was like, ‘yeah I have to get away and either move or go do something,’ but there’s so much you can do and such a big difference you can make in your own backyard or going back home and just helping the people there,” Strait said.

Marcy West, executive director of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, never imagined the flooding would be so bad.

“It’s described as the 500-year flood, the 1,000-year flood. I mean, it just exceeded everything,” West said.

She said the river is normally under four feet and commonly gets higher than that, but August’s flooding broke all of the previous records.

“We’ve seen records in 2007, 2008, 2010, but none of them really compare to the one we had in August and September, with a height of 19.42 (feet) at La Farge,” West said.

Claire Gourdain, the property owner still can’t believe how bad it really was.

“Water came from that side, hay bales, everything from town came through, trash but especially there were about 250 [hay] bales wrapped in plastic that came through the land, and unfortunately with the forces,

it got caught in the fence,” Gourdain said.

Gourdain isn’t alone. Several of the properties in the La Farge area are covered in debris, which is why Strait is encouraging people to volunteer.

“Just a few hours helps someone personally, like with their own property or like the river so it’s ready for next summer when everybody wants to enjoy it anyway,” Strait said.

The Kickapoo Valley Reserve tells us that La Farge and Ontario were the hardest-hit communities in their area.

If you would like to help clean up, just contact the Kickapoo Valley Reserve at or call 608-625-2960

Get your weather forecast from people that actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.