Sheriff’s officials: 2 people have died in Wisconsin floods

Severe weather damage
People stand by part of Wisconsin Highway 13, washed out after heavy rains, south of Highbridge in Ashland, Wis., Tuesday, July 12, 2016. Storms carrying tornadoes, torrential rain and powerful winds damaged homes, deposited a snowplow in a tree and flooded highways in north-central Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Jeff Peters)

LITCHFIELD, Minn. (AP) — At least two people have died in flooding caused by powerful storms that damaged homes, washed out roads and stranded motorists in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

In northern Wisconsin, an 84-year-old Illinois man died Tuesday when his vehicle became submerged in a flooded ditch, according to Bayfield County sheriff’s officials, who identified the victim as Delmar Johnson of Tower Lakes, Illinois. A firefighter was able to rescue the man’s wife, also 84, who was a passenger. The firefighter went back in the water and pulled Delmar Johnson from the vehicle, but couldn’t resuscitate him, officials said.

Also in Wisconsin, the Iron County Sheriff Tony Furyk said Wednesday that Montreal firefighter Mitchell Koski died in the flooding, but the sheriff declined to provide details. Furyk said the 56-year-old Koski was also a former county board member and was once mayor of Montreal, a city of about 800 near Hurley.

In southern Michigan, a woman and her 2-year-old son were rescued Tuesday evening in Jackson after lightning struck and toppled a tree onto their car, trapping them for about an hour. Storms that hit the state Tuesday flooded roads and left several thousand homes and businesses without power in Jackson County. The Michigan Emergency Operations Center was activated to provide assistance to those affected by the storms.

In Minnesota, Gov. Mark Dayton planned to travel Wednesday to Litchfield and Watkins, where Monday’s tornadoes flattened homes and uprooted trees. No serious injuries were reported.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency Tuesday in eight northern counties, including Bayfield and Iron, where sections of major highways and secondary roads remained flooded. The governor instructed the Wisconsin National Guard and all state agencies to help those affected by the storms.

Also in Bayfield County, sheriff’s officials said a deputy’s vehicle fell into a washed out section of roadway and was carried along by the powerful current. The deputy was able to get out of the vehicle and clung to a tree for more than two hours before he was rescued, authorities said. The deputy is hospitalized in good condition, according to the sheriff’s department.

The National Weather Service is forecasting another round of thunderstorms Wednesday for northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, and says more flooding is likely in northern Wisconsin, where rivers and creeks will continue to rise over the next two days. Thirty-two people, mainly campers, were safely evacuated after being briefly trapped on Michigan Island in Lake Superior, Wisconsin Emergency Management spokesman Tod Pritchard said Tuesday night.

Another hot and humid day is forecast Wednesday for parts of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. With temperatures predicted in the 90s in Detroit, the public school district said it planned to close many schools by 11 a.m. due to “extreme heat and humidity conditions.”

Part of U.S. Highway 2 in Iron and Bayfield County remained impassible Wednesday, according to sheriff’s officials. Other road closures in northern Wisconsin include portions of Highways 137, 63, 22, 169, 27 and 77.

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