Floods drown business in Wisconsin



By Todd Richmond

LAKE DELTON, Wis. – Not a cloud in the sky and the temperature is flirting with 90 degrees. Usually, it doesn’t get any better than this for the Tommy Bartlett water ski show.

But only about 200 people fill the 5,000-seat stadium on the shore of Lake Delton this day. No jet boats towing human pyramids on water skis, no laser show dancing across the water. There’s just a juggler, sweating through his sequins, spitting balls into the air and tossing machetes over his head to weak applause.The production that bills itself as the greatest show on H20 doesn’t have any H20. The lake bed is just a muddy moonscape.Ironically, this all started with too much water. Torrential rain in June blew a giant hole in Lake Delton’s shoreline, letting all the lake’s water rush out and taking vacation homes with it.

Lake Delton’s prosperity went down the drain on June 9 as thunderstorms flooded southern Wisconsin.

High water washed out a 700-foot-long section of earthen bank that separated the reservoir from the Wisconsin River. The 270-acre lake poured through the breach, washing away a section of highway and five shoreline homes. Video of the houses floating away was broadcast around the world.

Now the three dozen or so business on the lake-turned-mud hole are trying to survive.

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    Sunset Bay Resort’s Web site implores people not to cancel reservations: “The view of the lake is not bad, it’s just different.” The first part is a matter of opinion, the second indisputable – instead of cool, blue-black water, guests see a muddy desert dotted by stumps, buoys and junk.

    Baker, the resort’s owner, said her revenue is down 60 percent from last year.

    “We’ve lost a tremendous amount of business,” she said. “Watching those houses go in the lake over and over again, I wish it would just stop.”