Portage, Wisconsin residents opt to stay in flooded homes

As a nearby levee is weakened by recent heavy rain in Portage, Wisconsin, dozens of residents refuse to leave their homes.

Lyn Jerde/Portage Daily Register/AP
Shane Chapman carries his girlfriend, Megan Paskey, through 6 inches of water that covers parts of West Conant Street on Sept. 26 in Portage, Wisc.

Dozens of residents have opted to stay in their flood-stranded homes in central Wisconsin, even as a nearby levee weakened by recent heavy rain barely holds.

Columbia County Emergency Management director Pat Beghin says the levee on the Wisconsin River has deteriorated in the Town of Caledonia, just west of Portage. The river has been swollen by recent thunderstorms.

Beghin says if the levee breaks it could destroy an already flooded access road to the town's Blackhawk Park neighborhood. Some 75 of 300 area residents have decided to stay in their homes.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources engineers are inspecting the 14-mile levee system, which includes some dikes built mainly of sand in the 1890s.

Beghin says authorities are monitoring riverside towns where minor flooding has occurred.

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