VIOLA Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The Viola community is trying to avoid future flooding damage from the Kickapoo River. Viola has dealt with major flooding events for decades, which damaged houses and businesses on a consistent basis. Village President Daren Matthes says a significant flood four years ago caused Viola to start thinking about self-preservation.
“After the 2018 flood, it was time to develop a plan to move the Village and get it away from the river, so we can sustain and keep moving forward,” said Matthes.
After years of planning, construction is now underway on a housing development away from the Kickapoo. Two new apartment complexes are being built, and a new gas station is also planned for the site. Matthes wants to provide as many housing options as possible for those who want to get out of the floodplain.
“This is phase one that we’re looking at right now, phase two is up on the skyline all the way around for more housing up there that hopefully, as well as things are moving, by next year we’ll start into the planning stage of doing that,” said Matthes.
The USDA has helped Viola with its relocation plan through multiple grants totaling more than three million dollars. Rural development director Julie Lassa is hoping to ensure a future for the village and its residents.
“It’s important for USDA Rural Development to really partner with our communities to help build that resiliency and have those thriving, vibrant communities that rural residents want, and help them build that type of economy,” said Lassa.
The apartment complexes are expected to be completed this summer. Matthes says there’s already a long list of people wanting to move in when they’re ready. Village officials are hoping to provide more development sites along highway 1-31 so businesses can also relocate out of the floodplain.