People evacuated in Waupaca County community as flooding breaches dam

A dam in the city of Manawa, located on the Little Wolf River in Waupaca County, was breached following several hours of heavy rain — the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning, people downriver are being evacuated and emergency shelters have been set up.

Associated Press

July 5, 2024 • Northeast Region

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An aerial photo shows buildings, parks and trees situation among a grid of roads, with a pond behind the developed area and farm fields extending to the horizon.

An undated aerial photo shows the city of Manawa and adjacent Manawa Millpond along the Little Wolf River. Residents of the Waupaca County community were evacuated following a flash flood warning by the National Weather Service on July 5, 2024. (Source: City of Manawa)

AP News

MANAWA, Wis. (AP) — A dam in a central Wisconsin community has been breached, prompting people living downriver to be evacuated, the National Weather Service said July 5.

The dam in Manawa along the Little Wolf River was breached about 1:45 p.m. by floodwaters, meteorologist Scott Cultice said. The town has a population of about 1,200. It was not immediately clear how many people were evacuated.

Manawa Police Chief Jason Severson estimated that a 50-foot-wide area around the dam had eroded.

Gates on the dam eventually were opened to release water and relieve pressure on the structure, officials said.

“It looks like the dam is intact, but there is quite a bit of erosion on the north side,” Severson told reporters on the afternoon of July 5. “We think the worst of it is over, so now we’re going to start assessing things and see where we go from here.”

As the erosion worsened, authorities began evacuating some homes, he said.

The rains started about 8:30 a.m. on July 5 and about 5 inches fell in a few hours. A flash flood warning was issued for Manawa and other parts of Waupaca County

“It just wouldn’t stop raining in and around the Manawa area,” Cultice said. “They had water rescues. Most of the downtown roads were flooded.”

“We just can’t get rid of the rain,” he added. “It’s just not moving, just stalling.”

Emergency shelters have been set up in a high school and a masonic center.

“Due to the amount of water the dam isn’t safe,” the Manawa Police Department said on its Facebook page.

All entrances to the city of Manawa, about 55 miles west of Green Bay, also have been blocked, the city said in a post on its Facebook page.

“Please do not try to drive into the city or around the city,” the post read. “Vehicles are being flooded on the roads around the city. Union Street is flooded. N. Bridge Street is flooded. Beech Street is washed away. Howard Street is flooded. Industrial Drive is flooded.”

“Because of the amount of rain we are receiving … there will be flooding in the streets and yards,” the post continued. “It is everywhere in the city.”

The weather service warns that the rain, and possibly thunderstorms, could occur through the weekend and into early the following week.

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