The last flood-related boating restrictions in the La Crosse area were lifted Monday as the Mississippi River fell below 10 feet, but damage assessments continue as the water recedes.
The La Crosse County Sheriff's Department removed the flood-related no-wake zones for boating on the Mississippi River. The restrictions had been put in place to avoid creating waves that might erode flood barriers.
The National Weather Service in La Crosse issued its final flood statement Friday. The flood lasted from April 12 to May 14, peaking at 16.41 feet, the third-highest level on record.
While the water might be gone and the flood officially listed as over, work remains.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved nearly $230,000 in disaster housing grants to individuals in 11 Wisconsin counties where flooding was reported. So far, 96 La Crosse County homeowners have applied for assistance, said Frank Blake, FEMA public affairs officer.
Community relations teams from the Minnesota Division of Emergency Management and FEMA also were touring flood-damaged areas Monday, including Winona and Houston counties.
As of Monday, just 314 people in the 11 Wisconsin counties had registered with FEMA for flood- and storm-related disaster assistance, said Wisconsin Gov. Scott McCallum.
Earlier this month, during the preliminary damage assessment, federal and state disaster inspectors found more than 2,900 homes in the 11 counties that were damaged by flooding and storms in April and May.
Officials are advising people to register with FEMA, even if damage to their homes is minimal. Some damage to foundations might not be seen until the first frost in the fall. If they are not registered with FEMA, then they will be ineligible for possible financial help.
Residents of Buffalo, Burnett, Crawford, Douglas, Grant, La Crosse, Pepin, Pierce, St. Croix, Trempealeau and Vernon counties who sustained flooding, hail and storm damage are eligible for assistance. People who have reported damage to the American Red Cross or their county emergency management director still need to call the FEMA teleregistration line to apply for disaster assistance.
Money is available for a wide variety of reasons, according to FEMA. Some are eligible for reimbursement for costs while displaced - renters can get up to one month's rent, while homeowners can be reimbursed up to three months depending on the circumstances.
Others can receive checks for minimal repairs that were needed to continue living in their homes, such as repairing steps or replacing a water heater or electrical panel. Even if the repairs already have been completed, reimbursement could be available, especially if the homeowner took pictures or saved receipts.
Blake stressed that Minnesota homeowners can call the same number, because officials from Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois are cooperating.
Home and business owners who do not qualify for grant money also could be eligible for low-interest loan money through the Small Business Administration.
In other flood-related news, officials in De Soto, Wis., said Blackhawk Park will remain closed through the Memorial Day weekend so it can dry out and have debris removed. For information about the park, call (608) 648-3314.