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Calm after storm: Wisconsin residents return home following dam breach, evacuation

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Residents of Manawa have been given the green light to return to their homes after a severe dam breach led to an urgent evacuation. The breach occurred on Friday, following intense flooding that overwhelmed the Manawa Dam along the Little Wolf River in eastern Wisconsin, causing significant erosion and raising alarms among local authorities.

The crisis unfolded swiftly as the city of Manawa was deluged with about 4 inches of heavy rain, resulting in flash floods that rendered several roads impassable and left residents stranded. The severity of the situation prompted first responders to evacuate those living downstream of the dam as erosion around the structure became evident.

Manawa Police Chief Jason Severson took to Facebook to update the community, reassuring them that the situation at the Manawa Dam had “stabilized.” His statement brought a collective sigh of relief to the city’s 1,200 residents, many of whom had been anxiously awaiting news.

The National Weather Service’s Green Bay office reported that rainfall had ceased by Friday evening, and floodwaters were beginning to recede, though some flooding persisted downstream, particularly affecting the town of Royalton. Meteorologist Gus Kaiser described it as a “fairly stable situation” but cautioned that ongoing flooding was still a concern.

Despite the severity of the flooding, the Manawa Dam itself remained intact. However, substantial erosion—estimated to span about 50 feet around the dam—was observed on the north side of the structure and the surrounding land. To mitigate further damage, dam gates were opened to alleviate pressure from the floodwaters.

In a press conference, Chief Severson confirmed, “The dam has not failed, but there’s considerable erosion in the area. We are working diligently to manage the situation and ensure the safety of our residents.”

Remarkably, no injuries were reported amid the chaos. However, the severe flooding led to a boil water advisory for Manawa and nearby areas. Josh Smith, the director of public works, advised residents to adhere to the advisory until water samples from the city’s wells are confirmed safe.

As the city braces for potential additional rainfall in the coming days, efforts are underway to lower floodwaters to enable necessary repairs. The community, once again resilient in the face of adversity, is now focused on recovery and rebuilding.

Residents, though shaken, are grateful for the swift action and effective communication from local authorities. This incident stands as a testament to the strength and solidarity of the Manawa community, proving that even in the face of natural disasters, they can rally together and emerge stronger.

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