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Sunday is 5-year anniversary of historic floods at Lake Delton

WISCONSIN DELLS, WI (WTAQ) - It was five years ago on Sunday when a highway crumbled, causing Lake Delton and three expensive lake homes to disappear down the Wisconsin River.

It was the symbol of an entire summer marred by heavy rains and floods throughout the southern half of Wisconsin.

Those floods started on this date in 2008. The head of Wisconsin Emergency Management, Brian Satula, calls it one of the most devastating flooding events of recent years.

Three people were killed. Thousands of homes, farms, and businesses were damaged or destroyed.

It took months for Rock Springs in Sauk County to lose its flood waters. Wisconsin Dells tourism suffered mightily in 2008, as the mud which held Lake Delton became an eyesore.

Damages totaled $763 million. Federal disaster assistance eventually helped flood victims in 31 counties – including almost 24,000 homes.

The state helped refill Lake Delton, and it was ready for tourists the year after the tragedy.

Satula said the Floods of 2008 provided valuable lessons for authorities. Those lessons were put to good use in 2009, when Gays Mills along the Mississippi River was hit with a second straight year of massive floods. Plans were made to move about half that Crawford County village to higher ground.

State officials said 27 communities received over $28 million in aid to reduce future flood damages.