Sheriff’s officials: 2 people have died in Wisconsin floods


LITCHFIELD, Minn. (AP) — At least two people have died in flooding caused by powerful storms that damaged homes, washed out roads and stranded motorists in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

In northern Wisconsin, an 84-year-old Illinois man died Tuesday when his vehicle became submerged in a flooded ditch, according to Bayfield County sheriff’s officials, who identified the victim as Delmar Johnson of Tower Lakes, Illinois. A firefighter was able to rescue the man’s wife, also 84, who was a passenger. The firefighter went back in the water and pulled Delmar Johnson from the vehicle, but couldn’t resuscitate him, officials said.

Also in Wisconsin, the Iron County Sheriff Tony Furyk said Wednesday that Montreal firefighter Mitchell Koski died in the flooding, but the sheriff declined to provide details. Furyk said the 56-year-old Koski was also a former county board member and was once mayor of Montreal, a town of about 800 near Hurley.

Montreal Fire Chief Mark Haeger told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Koski heard people were in trouble in Saxon Harbor and was killed trying to help them. Much of the harbor was washed away in the storms. State emergency officials said 85 boats were destroyed.

The National Weather Service says more flooding is likely in northern Wisconsin, where rivers and creeks will continue to rise over the next two days.

In southern Michigan, a woman and her 2-year-old son were rescued Tuesday evening in Jackson after lightning struck and toppled a tree onto their car, trapping them for about an hour. Storms that hit the state Tuesday flooded roads and left several thousand homes and businesses without power in Jackson County. The Michigan Emergency Operations Center was activated to provide assistance to those affected by the storms.

In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton traveled Wednesday to Litchfield and Watkins, where Monday’s tornadoes flattened homes and uprooted trees. No serious injuries were reported.

Dayton said total damage costs probably are not high enough to trigger federal disaster money. But the governor said he’s certain some state emergency aid will be available, Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/29EfcSw) reported.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., sent a letter to President Barack Obama Wednesday asking for disaster assistance for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency Tuesday in eight northern counties. The governor instructed the Wisconsin National Guard and all state agencies to help those affected by the storms.

Also in Bayfield County, sheriff’s officials said a deputy’s vehicle fell into a washed out section of roadway and was carried along by the powerful current. The deputy was able to get out of the vehicle and clung to a tree for more than two hours before he was rescued, authorities said. The deputy is hospitalized in good condition, according to the sheriff’s department.

Thirty-two people, mainly campers, were safely evacuated after being briefly trapped on Michigan Island in Lake Superior, Wisconsin Emergency Management spokesman Tod Pritchard said Tuesday night.

Part of U.S. Highway 2 in Iron and Ashland counties remained impassible Wednesday, according to sheriff’s officials.

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