MADISON, Wis. – Searchers on Tuesday recovered the body of a man who was wrenched away from would-be rescuers during flash flooding that forced evacuations around Wisconsin’s capital city and cut power to many homes.
More than 11 inches of rain fell overnight in places in or around Madison, according to the National Weather Service.
The man who died was in his 70s, police spokesman Joel DeSpain said in a news release Tuesday. The man was driving a car with two passengers near a Madison park on Monday when it stalled in flood waters and was swept into a drainage ditch. The car came to rest nose down and quickly filled with water.
A passer-by opened a rear door and helped the two passengers. The female passenger was swept under the water as she climbed out, but the passer-by’s wife saved her by reaching under and grabbing the woman by the hair, according to the news release, which didn’t include the names of those involved.
The male rescuer and another male passer-by helped the driver out of the car, but he was sucked under the car and disappeared.
DeSpain said searchers found his body in a retention pond.
The weather service said it suspects that the downpour broke a Wisconsin record for most rainfall in a 24-hour period. The Madison suburb of Middleton has so far recorded 11.6 inches , but rainfall reports were still coming in. The previous record was 11.7 inches near Mellen in northern Wisconsin, set on June 24, 1946.
Black Earth Creek hit record flood stage with evacuations underway in Black Earth, Cross Plains and Mazomanie, according to Dane County Emergency Management. A temporary shelter was set up at Mazomanie Village Hall.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi’s chief-of-staff, Josh Wescott, said about 100 people had been evacuated in Mazomanie, and sheriff’s deputies were using an air boat to reach people still trapped in their homes.
County officials have discovered a number of damaged bridges and culverts and were beginning to put together a full damage report, Westcott said. Parisi declared a state of emergency in the county on Tuesday morning, the first step toward qualifying for state and federal assistance.
About 6,000 Madison Gas and Electric customers lost power Monday night as the storms hit west of Madison. Power was restored to the majority of those customers by Tuesday morning, but repairs were delayed because the floods made some roads impassable.
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