August rainfall caused citywide flooding, but high lake levels threaten more

In late August, significant rainfall pummeled Madison, causing flooding throughout the city, damaging infrastructure and private residences, and costing the city millions of dollars. According to a report by Daniel Wright, assistant professor in the department of civil and environmental engineering at UW-Madison, the amount of rain that fell on the Yahara watershed was by no means historical. Rather, Wright wrote, it fell around a 30 year recurrence interval, meaning “over the course of a 30-year mortgage, a homeowner will, on average, experience one storm similar in magnitude.”

The four inches of rain that fell across the lakes produced a 100-year flood event in Madison due to the high lake levels of Lakes Monona, Mendota, Waubesa and Kegonsa — especially Lake Mendota. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources set the minimum and maximum lake levels in 1979. The storm on August 20 caused the lake levels to rise well above their minimums and 100-year flood levels.

Hmong holiday lunch offers chance to celebrate community

Members of Madison’s Hmong community are hosting a lunch for residents to celebrate the holidays together on Friday. The holiday lunch will be held in the lower level of the Catholic Multicultural Center, and starts at noon. The lunch, which is the first event Hmoob KajSiab will host during the winter holidays, follows up the program’s event around Thanksgiving. Hmoob KajSiab works with elderly Hmong, Cambodians and Miao to help them socialize and address mental health issues. “KajSiab” means peacefulness and calm and encapsulates the idea of being free from stress, tension and worry.

Volunteers endure rain during Madison Parks’ cleanup challenge, while officials brace for ice damage due to high lake levels

Madison residents braved rainy and wet conditions in early November to take part in the Flood Clean-up Challenge hosted by the City of Madison Parks Division. The event, which took place at 11 different parks in Madison, addressed the impact of the flooding that occured in the city over the summer. With the gradual recession of flood waters since mid-September, many parks situated along shorelines in the city were left with debris, trash, and large swaths of seaweed on their beaches, which had been washed ashore during the flooding. In response, the Madison Parks Division developed a cleanup plan that relied, in part, on volunteers. “I was really taken with the opportunity to volunteer for the city [and] to clean it up,” said Emily Reynolds, one of the volunteers who came to help with the effort.

December 2018 Backyard Heroes

Community Shares, a partner of Madison Commons, recognizes two volunteers each month. The volunteers come from Community Shares' member groups and are selected for their service to the community and to community issues. Jake Hardwood, Rape Crisis Center

Jake Hardwood volunteers with the Rape Crisis Center (RCC). At the RCC, Hardwood has dedicated his efforts to the Safer Bar program where he helps educate employees of Madison businesses on the subject of sexual violence intervention. As a volunteer, he has assisted in the training of staff at alcohol-serving establishments to help them better identify sexually aggressive behavior.

City Engineering plans to track flood damage with new website

The City of Madison recently launched a new website to report storm-related problems following the historic flooding in late August. More than 10 inches of rain fell on Madison over the course of eight hours on August 20. Immediate flash flooding occurred, and Madison’s lakes swelled to historic highs. Lake Mendota rose 16 inches, and Lake Monona rose more than 10 inches above it’s record elevation. Some areas of the city saw five-feet deep flood waters.

Madison school board use new procedures to govern public comments in November meeting

New procedures for public comments at Madison Metropolitan School District board meetings were used last month following criticism from community members who allege their voices were disrespected and silenced in the past. In previous meetings, School Board President Mary Burke has announced the names of the participants as they approached the podium followed by the name of the person next in line to speak. Burke, according to complaints, has had trouble pronouncing names of participants in previous meetings. A seemingly annoying or frustrating occurrence for some, represents a long history of disrespect and discrimination for others. To avoid future insults, whether intentional or not, last month the board changed the way speakers are introduced during public comments.