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I was reminded recently that June 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the devastating floods that hit south-central Wisconsin, disrupting many lives, including those in the City of Columbus. High School Graduation that year was postponed, as was the annual Columbus Carriage Classic in Firemen’s Park, and over 500 properties in the City were affected by those historically large rainfalls.
I was not working in Columbus in 2008 but was living here. It’s not hard to remember looking around the community to see water everywhere and not hard to imagine the feeling of frustration that had to come upon those property owners that were most affected and lives totally uprooted. We’re all used to seeing Firemen’s Park and Kiwanis Park get wet during the heaviest rainstorms today, but in 2008, there was much more water in places that hadn’t seen water like that before. Many family members and friends were evacuated from the River Road area. I know residents and businesses had limited mobility due to bridges and roads closed and impassable.
But it’s also not hard to remember the way that our community responded to the circumstances. Many responded to the call for help to fill sandbags, provide support to first responders and assist with the necessary evacuations. In the days following the flooding, these operations lasted day after day after day, and the people kept coming to help their neighbors in need until the job was done.
I was talking with Columbus Journal Editor Kevin Damask and I understand he will be providing more of a nuts and bolts story to commemorate that period of our history. Either way, my focus for the June column is to use the memories of the flood as another case in point of how resilient and unified Columbus is when faced with the toughest challenges. I know that a few of my co-workers at the Police Department, Fire Department and Public Works Department can provide lots of information about how Columbus responded to the floods. My sense is that the quick call to action by the community was not unlike what I saw firsthand in July of 2015, when the severe windstorm hit us and knocked out power and trees all over the City. The people of Columbus are ready to help a neighbor in need.
Since 2008, in response to the flooding, there have been measures taken to better manage storm water through Columbus. These changes have made positive effects on drainage, but you can never tell what Mother Nature has in store. Whatever she throws at us, the community of Columbus has shown time and again that we will persevere. And for anyone that pitched in and helped during those difficult days in June 2008, I say “thank you” again.
If you have any questions on this or any other issue before city government, please contact me down at City Hall at 623-5900 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.