Saturday, June 14, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Crisis at Lake Delton

There Used to be a Fishing Lake Here:

The Tragic Story of Lake Delton, Wisconsin

Lake Delton As it Was

“It rained. And it kept raining. Then it rained some more. And just when we thought that God had run out of water, it really started to pour.”

Lake Delton before the storm

Lake Delton after the storm (this and the following five photos courtesy of Marc T. Hanger

So a family member living in Madison, Wisconsin reported on the recent torrential rains that have inundated the Midwest with floods of nearly biblical proportions. From Iowa to Central Wisconsin, it is wall-to-wall water. Farm fields that should be ankle high in corn are under a foot or more of water; spill-over ditches that usually remain dry are running like rivers; meadows have turned into ponds; ponds have turned into lakes. And still the rains keep coming.

As of this writing, portions of I-80 coming out of Iowa and I-94 south of Madison are impassable due to flooding, as if some malevolent being sought to cut off any escape routes. But these hearty Midwesterners don’t cut and run. But the rains have even worn their legendary patience razor thin.

The Boat Landing at Lake Delton

No where is this more evident than Lake Delton, Wisconsin—a world class resort and fishing lake adjacent to the famed Wisconsin Dells. Or, to put it more accurately, used to be adjacent to the Dells. Because it is no longer there.

It is hard to imagine a lake that just disappeared, but incredibly, this is exactly what happened to Lake Delton. All last week, residents sandbagged and prepared for what certainly was going to be an epic flood. Many vacation homes as well as residential houses reside on this once-beautiful lake, and their owners feared the creeping water levels would erode shorelines, wash away docks, or even (God forbid) damage foundations.

Lake Delton shore line

No one could possibly have envisioned what actually happened: the lake simply disappeared. Where one of the most coveted vacation lakes in the nation once existed, now only mud, dirt, and dead fish remains. A muddy rivulet runs through the center of what was once a marvel, a man-made lake that everyone believed would always be there. They were wrong.

How could something like this happen? The dam at the end of Lake Delton did not fail, which would be most people’s first thoughts. Instead, the earth embankment next to the dam collapsed. At first a trickle, then a stream, then a torrent of water flowed through, until a breach thirty feet across began to drain the lake in earnest. Residents watched in complete shock as the lake simply went away; an hour and a half was all it took for a lake to disappear. 90 minutes and there used to be a fishing lake here.

So today, please take a moment out of your busy schedules to think nice thoughts of the many people affected by this unfortunate flood, and if you can, say a little extra prayer for the residents of Lake Delton, the lake that disappeared.

More info on the Lake Delton disaster can be found here:

Lake Delton Recovery

Videos and Pictures of the Lake Delton Disaster

It Looks Like the End of the World

-- Dr. Todd

1 comment:

Jiffy said...

To Help, please join a National effort for Lake Delton.
Please go to:

Sincerely yours,

Ben Hobbins
Lake Delton Fisheries Restoration
Pres/CEO IronClad Lures-Lake Resources 1-608-513-3535