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                                                                                                    Andy Manis/Associated Press
People look at two houses that fell into an emptied Lake Delton, Tuesday, June 10, 2008,
after the 267-acre lake drained Monday.

Popular Wisconsin Lake Nearly Empties After Storms

June 11, 2008 12:24 PM
by Anne Szustek
Lake Delton’s shore gave way Monday morning, causing a torrential flow over the adjacent roadway into the Wisconsin River and millions of dollars in damage.

30-Second Summary

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Lake Delton, formed in 1927 by damming the Wisconsin River, was at the heart of the Wisconsin Dells resort area, a popular summer vacation spot for families in the Chicago and Twin Cities metropolitan areas. But the lake, ringed by weekend cabins and 20 resorts, now stands nearly empty.

Heavy weekend rains oversaturated the portion of shoreline that was supported by sand, turning it into what the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel called a “soggy mass” that blew open a 400-foot-wide gorge. Some 600 million gallons of water left the lake through the newly created gorge into the Wisconsin River. County Highway A, adjacent to the lake, collapsed as well.

Sandbagging the area early Monday morning was not enough to prevent the deluge, which swept away four homes and left the lake nearly empty. “I never in my wildest dreams thought that was going to happen. Never,” said Tom Pekar, a retiree who owned one of the destroyed houses.

Resort owners called reservation holders to advise them to cancel their vacations. “Can you imagine families showing up here, coming down to the beach and wondering where the lake is?” said Linda Allessi, owner of the Sandrift Resort.

Torrential rains covered much of the Midwest this past weekend. As of noon on Monday, Wis. Gov. Jim Doyle had declared a state of emergency in 30 counties, including Sauk County, where Lake Delton is located.

The region’s other attractions, such as its waterparks and riverside rock formations, remain intact and are open to tourists. The Wisconsin Dells area pulls in some $1 billion in tourism revenue each year, according to the Associated Press.

Headline Links: Lake Delton drains, sweeps away homes, crimps tourism business

Video: ‘Flood Waters Drain Lake Delton’

Reference: Weather patterns

Related Topics: Tornadoes hit Midwest in late May, Texas sinkhole

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