De Soto Schools receives final FEMA check toward 2016 flood damage

More than $125,000 reimbursed to De Soto School District
De Soto Flood Check

DE SOTO, Wis. (WKBT) – There is more relief for taxpayers in the De Soto School District.  Several communities are still dealing with flood disasters from 2016.

De Soto’s football field was destroyed and would cost half a million dollars to fix it. The community received aid to make repairs and their final check arrived Thursday.

It’s amazing the scar water can leave behind. Storms produce 100-year floods every other year it seems.

We only see a brief moment. Just ask people from De Soto. Their district is still dealing with the results of flooding from four years ago.

About 10 inches of rain fell over a 24-hour period in parts of Vernon County in September of that year.

“This is the final payment for everything that happened in 2016,” said Guy Boardman, buildings and grounds director for De Soto Area Schools.

Flooding from that week wiped out De Soto’s football field. It would take more than $500,000 to fix it.

With help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Wisconsin Emergency Management, the school was awarded funding to help cover the cost.

“It was just kind of the shock of everything and then the paperwork started coming,” Boardman said. “It was a lengthy process.”

Communities in Vernon and Crawford county are not rookies to flood disasters. Since 1998, Vernon County has been included in a FEMA Federal Disaster Declaration eight times. That doesn’t include 2018. Money is available but communities have to document everything so FEMA can help.

“Every documentation you can get, pictures, every invoice. Everything you do they want to know about,” said Brandon Larson, Emergency Management director for Vernon County. “With this large project, they audit that stuff to make sure you are getting what you need.”

Staff is often at a premium.

“Lions Club, community members, board members. Everybody was involved which made the process a lot easier knowing that you have everybody behind you,” Boardman said.

Some communities we have visited over the years are still sitting on stacks of paperwork trying to catch up on three years worth of flood disasters.

De Soto is getting the final check worth more than $125,000.

“The work is all done and paid for This is reimbursement for what we have paid for,” Boardman said.

The experience of flood-after-flood has turned these people into experts on how to recover.

“They know exactly what they need to do which is sad that they have been through it this much,” Larson said.

Without checks like this, a community of fewer than 300 people would have a half-million-dollar bill.

“It would directly come out of our taxpayers pocket which it still comes from the taxpayers but it helps relieve a lot of a burden for us.”

FEMA and WEM cut the bill down to about $60,000.

“This is big. It’s big for any municipality that has damages to get money back,” Larson said.

District officials say the repairs that were made will help prevent a similar disaster in the future.