Boy swept underwater in Wisconsin floods is rescued

A gazebo is seen pinned up against the Hwy. 14/61 bridge.
A gazebo from nearby Veterans Memorial Park is seen pinned up against the Hwy. 14/61 bridge Tuesday in Coon Valley, Wis., moved there by floodwater from Coon Creek.
Peter Thomson | La Crosse Tribune via AP

An 11-year-old boy nearly lost his life in a waterlogged drainage ditch in eastern Wisconsin but was pulled to safety by an eagle-eyed firefighter who spotted his finger poking through a manhole cover, officials said, following another round of storms that pounded Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota.

The damaging storms Tuesday brought heavy rain, hail and powerful winds to a region already swamped under floods and suffering power cuts from earlier downpours. Several possible tornadoes were reported in Wisconsin.

The boy who was swept into a storm drain was playing with friends after the rains passed around 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Village of Harrison. The Calumet County Sheriff's Office said the boy was in the flooded drainage ditch when he went under water and didn't surface.

The Calumet County dive team, sheriff's deputies and others searched the ditch and storm sewer. The boy managed to find an air pocket and was rescued after a firefighter some 30 feet away saw his finger poking through a manhole cover. The boy was taken to the hospital, and authorities said he was alert and conscious after his ordeal.

The deluge stranded two trains carrying about 400 Amtrak passengers for hours because of flooding over the train tracks in southern Wisconsin. One Amtrak train was stalled near Portage and another near Tomah. No new details were immediately available.

State Highway 56 is covered by floodwaters.
State Highway 56 is covered by floodwaters of the West Fork Kickapoo River as heavy rain continues to fall Wednesday west of Viola, Wis.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

Substantial rainfall of 5 to 11 inches in western Wisconsin forced the evacuation of people from their homes in La Crosse, Vernon and Monroe counties. Officials have yet to say how many homes were affected by the floods.

Several tornadoes were spotted Tuesday afternoon in Campbellsport, Lomira, Oakfield and Brandon, Wis., according to the National Weather Service. The service has not confirmed that tornadoes hit in any of these locations.

Some 12,000 We Energies customers were still without power Wednesday morning as utility crews worked overtime to restore service.