For the Journal Sentinel

By Randy Lehr, Codirector of the Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation

On the evening of July 11, a violent and torrential storm swept through northwest Wisconsin, saturating communities, farms and forests from Lake Superior in Ashland County south approximately 75 miles to the Hayward Lakes area.

Twelve hours later, local residents woke to damage from rainfall totals ranging from five to 13 inches that washed out more than 100 road crossings — including two federal highways — stranding many in their homes and leaving three people dead. Current estimates put the damage at least at $30 million for repairs.

It will take years for us to fully recover from the devastating flooding — the sediment plume in Lake Superior was still visible from satellite images more than a week later. As we begin to debrief in the aftermath of the storm, it is important to understand what led to the widespread damage and what, if anything, northwest Wisconsin and other Great Lakes communities can learn from these recent events. For full editorial.

Photo courtesy of Justus Grunow

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