Death attributed to flooding in northern Wisconsin; Gov. Walker declares state of emergency

ASHLAND, Wis. — Widespread flooding in the Upper Midwest was blamed for at least one death in Wisconsin, while officials in northern Michigan were assessing damage from flash-flooding that washed out roads and caused dozens of sinkholes.

The body of a 75-year-old man was recovered about 60 feet (18 meters) from his pickup truck in a ditch along a flooded road Sunday in White River, the Ashland County Sheriff's Office said Monday. Sheriff's officials said the investigation was ongoing but that the death was flood related.

Governor Walker declared a state of emergency in Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, and Iron Counties.

“The state stands at the ready to assist local governments in recovery efforts,” Governor Walker said. “I have directed all state agencies to assist and called the Wisconsin National Guard to state active duty as Major General Dunbar deems necessary. I am touring the damages this evening with Major General Dunbar. We have confidence in our communities’ ability to come together and recover.”

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The National Weather Service has since extended a flood warning through Thursday for northwestern Wisconsin and neighboring areas in Minnesota. Up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) of rain also fell in parts of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, causing similar flooding.

Large chunks of concrete and asphalt washed away on some Michigan roads, covering them with debris and making them impassible. Some residents used boats to get around, though the U.S. Coast Guard warned people to stay out of recreational waterways because of the amount of storm debris.

Michigan Tech University and Finlandia University remain closed Monday because of the flooding and road conditions.

Flash flooding over the weekend also caused extensive damage to roads and highways in Wisconsin and Minnesota, including U.S. Highway 2, a major thoroughfare across northwestern Wisconsin. Flood warnings were issued in the area because of the potential for rainfall rates to exceed 2 inches per hour.

Governor Scott Walker is set to tour the damage in Superior on Monday evening with Wisconsin National Guard Major General Donald Dunbar.