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Manawa Fire Chief: 'Still a lot left to do' in flood recovery process

Manawa Fire Chief and Director of Public Works Josh Smith spoke with NBC 26 Sunday, sharing an exclusive update on next steps for the city
Posted at 4:04 PM, Jul 07, 2024

MANAWA (NBC 26) — Manawa continues to find its footing after a hectic Friday of severe weather which dumped more than 5 inches of rain on the town.

  • Manawa Fire Chief and Director of Public Works Josh Smith says there’s “still a lot left to do"
  • Some neighbors say their basements remain flooded
  • Smith says Lindsay Athletic Park was under 4-6 feet of floodwater Friday
  • Smith gave updates on the wastewater treatment plant, the Manawa Dam, the local nursing home, and next steps for the city

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story, with additional details for the web)

In an exclusive interview with NBC 26, Manawa Fire Chief and Director of Public Works Josh Smith says there’s “still a lot left to do” as the city recovers from damage caused by Friday’s severe weather.

It’s been two days since the city was slammed with torrential rains which caused flash flooding, fears of a total dam failure, and a boil water advisory. On Saturday, we reported that the situation had “stabilized,” per city authorities.

However, many are still dealing with the after effects. Fire Chief Smith says he and his team knocked on between 50 and 100 doors to evacuate people out of precaution Friday, but believes that number could be “even more.”

Though residents returned to their homes Friday evening, NBC 26 spoke with some neighbors around the community Sunday, and they say their basements were completely flooded and they had to clear out their homes in order to start cleaning up.

Alongside the lifted water boil advisory Saturday evening, Fire Chief Smith gave a positive update on the water treatment plant.

“So right now the plant is fully operational. We got a couple over maintenance things that we just gotta check on, but otherwise it is back up and running. It’s going to take a little bit to make sure it’s running efficiently and everything is running the way it should be.”

Smith also provided an update on the seniors from the Manawa Community Nursing Center who are still taking refuge at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in the nearby village of King.

“Actually, the owner of the nursing home stopped by the fire station yesterday during our water drive. He had said that everything was going good. They are in the process of bringing an electrician in, there’s a couple of upgrades they are going to be doing anyways, but it sounds like as far as structurally and cleaning-wise, it sounds like they’ve been doing really good.”

While the waters in the Manawa Millpond have leveled out, there were still some concerns about the remaining portion of the Manawa Dam which is still standing.

“Any update on the dam structurally?” I asked.

“Structurally, no," Smith responded. "That’ll all be coming up, I’d imagine, in the next couple days as far as how we go through it. Obviously we had our engineering firm out here yesterday alongside our emergency management just to try and start assessing everything, so.”

Smith says while there are is still plenty of cleanup to do, he is grateful for everyone who helped the city, especially through the water boil advisory.

“Continued thanks for the people who donated water for the people that needed it.”

Fire Chief Smith says Lindsay Athletic Park remains closed “until further notice." He also says the Department of Public Works has blocked off a portion of the Sturm Memorial Library parking lot out of precaution, as land around the lot continues to erode from the flowing water.