Tomah, WI (WXOW) — Two weeks ago, heavy rains led to severe flooding in Vernon, Crawford County, and Monroe counties. While the flood waters have receded, the need for help remains.
Monday was not a usual day at the office for Patrick Testin. The Wisconsin State Senator for District 24 recently spent time surveying flood damage in southern Monroe County.
“It’s hard to believe what water can do. Just the sheer power that it has,” said Patrick Testin, (R) WI District 24. “Now, it’s important for us to come together and work together to ensure that the families that were impacted most, who may have lost their homes or have flood damage, that we help them get back on their feet.”
Toro Company in Tomah saw the call to action and organized what they call the Toro Challenge.
“We’ve got trucks, and we’ve got drivers,” said Chris Hacker, Director of Operations with Toro Company. “We’ve got trailers, and we’ve got staff to help manage the effort.”
Local businesses dropped off donations on Monday by the van load. The donations included non-perishable food items, cleaning products, and more.
Organizers of the Toro Challenge say the original goal was to fill just one semi trailer; however, within hours of starting the effort, they received enough pallets to fill a trailer. Now, they set the bar higher.
“We would like to have one filled now, and one filled in an hour from now,” said Hacker. “Donations lined up down the street to the point that we would have to shut the factory down to make sure we get all the trailers loaded. There can’t be enough given the thousands of people that have been impacted.”
It is an effort that organizers say is meant to support those who make businesses great.
“We have employees here, dedicated employees, hardworking employees, that show up to work every single day and do their best. For us,” said Hacker. “You look at the pictures, and those same employees in many cases have lost it all. Everything.”
State Representative Nancy Vandermeer (R) of WI District 70 and Andrew Nussbaum with the Wisconsin Department of Tourism volunteered their time in Tomah to help with the donation efforts on Monday.
The Toro Challenge will go from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. through Friday, September 14. Those interested in donating are asked to bring non-perishable food items, water, bleach, cleaning supplies, and pet food to Toro Company at 200 Sime Avenue in Tomah.
The Tomah Chamber and Visitors Center is working with The Salvation Army, Red Cross, and other relief organizations to assess the needs and distribute donated items.
Individuals and companies can donate money at any Tomah F & M Bank location.