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Emergency Declared After Storms Cause Deadly Wisconsin Floods

One death has been blamed on the flash flooding which struck northwest Wisconsin and northeast Minnesota Monday.
A section of Wisconsin Highway 13 is washed out after heavy rains, south of Highbridge in Ashland, Wis., on July 12.Jeff Peters / AP

Wisconsin’s governor on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for eight counties following flooding brought on by storms Monday.

Flooding is blamed on at least two deaths. Iron County Commissioner Mitchell Koski died in flash flooding near Saxon Harbor at around 9:30 p.m. Monday, NBC affiliate KARE11 reported. And an 84-year-old Illinois man, Delmar Johnson, drowned after driving into a water-filled ditch outside the town of Cable on Tuesday morning, authorities said. He wife was rescued.

In Bayfield County, a deputy sheriff nearly drowned when his car was swept into swollen waters. He survived by clinging to a tree for two hours before rescuers pulled him to safety, authorities said.

The city of Ashland was cut off to road traffic after roads and highways were washed out, the Iron County Sheriff’s Office said.

A section of Wisconsin Highway 13 is washed out after heavy rains, south of Highbridge in Ashland, Wis., on July 12.Jeff Peters / AP

The storms damaged or destroyed 85 boats at Saxon Harbor, the Wisconsin division of emergency management said. Thirty-three people were stranded on Michigan Island in Lake Superior off the harbor, and they were being rescued Tuesday.

Gov. Scott Walker declared an emergency in Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Price, Sawyer, and Washburn counties, which are in the northern and northwestern parts of the state.

"Multiple rounds of showers and thunderstorms" hit northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin Monday, causing several roads and highways to be impassable by floods, the National Weather Service said.

Nearly 3.5 inches of rain fell in Bayfield County and 4 inches fell in the city of Trego in Washburn County, the weather service said. The Whitehead River near Ashland rose to 8.54 feet, and the Bad River near Odanah rose to 27.28 feet, levels which broke records, the NWS said.

In Minnesota, nearly 9 inches of rain fell parts of Crow Wing County; 7 inches fell in Pine County; and more than 3 inches of rain fell in Cass County.

The Kettle River near the town of Sandstone was projected to rise to 18 feet by Wednesday night, which would approach levels seen in 2012, which set a record.

"If you live near the Kettle River, prepare now," the weather service warned.

A flood warning was in place for parts of Pine County until 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

More thunderstorms could form over northern Wisconsin this week until the weekend, the weather service said.