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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

Welcome to the September edition of the Community Connections newsletter! In this month's edition, we will focus on how to protect your family and property during a flood, when possible. Many areas around the state have been affected by recent flooding, and flooding occurrences, in general, have been on the rise. That said, I wanted to make sure everyone in our community has the tools and knowledge needed to protect yourself, your family, and your belongings. 

Weather events, like the ones Wisconsin has been experiencing, serve as an opportunity for lawmakers to take a hard look at our policies and how we can better protect our environment and state from climate change. More on this is also included below. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my e-newsletter. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about state matters. 

Sincerely, 

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LaTonya Johnson
State Senator

 

Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip of the Month 2.png (1)Complete a Home Inventory to Save Time and Money on Insurance Claims

According to the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, purchasing the correct coverage for your needs is important, but it is just one step towards protecting your property. The suggested next step is to prepare a home inventory of your possessions. Doing this will make the process of filing a claim more organized and less stressful should property loss occur. It can also help you determine whether or not your current coverage is adequate for your needs before a loss occurs. 


To see a list of steps to complete a home inventory, and to access a downloadable home inventory sheet to use, click here. 

 

Know How to Protect You and Your Family During a Flood

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The unprecedented flooding happening across the state is a good reminder that we should all be prepared as best as possible if a flood happens in our neighborhood. The past couple of weeks has also served as a reminder of the implications policy decisions have on the condition of our environment. Not only are there personal and property safety considerations, but the floods occurring in Wisconsin are a serious reminder of the impacts of a reduction on environmental safeguards at the state-level and also the threat that climate change has on our communities. 

How to stay safe during a flood
When faced with potential heavy rains and flooding, there are several things to keep in mind to ensure the safety of you and your family: 

  • Always avoid going into flood waters, which may contain raw sewage and potentially dangerous debris and chemicals.
  • Check buildings to make sure they are structurally sound before entering. Never enter a building if you smell natural gas. 
  • If flooding occurs, have electrical systems and outlets inspected. 
  • Do not eat food, including canned food, that comes in contact with flood water.

Clean up recommendations if flooding occurs 
There are several steps you can take immediately in order to help mitigate damage caused by flooding. It's important to note that as homeowners begin cleaning up damage, door-to-door contractors may come into neighborhoods to promise help at a great price. Be wary of these contractors, known as 'storm chasers' as they have a history of doing subpar work for high prices. Learn more about this concern by reading a news release by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection. Here are some other clean up tips:

  • Water damage can lead to the growth of mold, which can be seen or smelled within a few days (but can sometimes take longer to show up). Talk to a professional cleaning service to determine how serious the problem is and what the best method is to remedy it.
  • Use fans or air conditioning units and dehumidifiers to help with the drying process 
  • Any hard surfaces that come in contact with flood waters should be washed with a non-ammonia household cleaner and water and then disinfected with a mixture of bleach and water (allow it to air dry). Always exercise caution when using bleach, click here for more information. 
  • Wash clothing that gets contaminated with flood water, and do so separately from non-contaminated laundry. 

Property damage and insurance tips
Many of us know that we should take photos of any damage that occurs to our property and notify our insurance agent or company as soon as possible in order to begin filing a claim. However, there are other specific steps that one should consider when damage due to flooding happens to our property:

  • First and foremost, most homeowner's policies do not cover flooding or seepage through a foundation. A separate flood insurance policy is sold for this coverage. 
  • Damage from sewer backup or sump pump overflow is not covered by standard homeowner's insurance or flood insurance. A special endorsement for your policy is typically required for this coverage. 
  • Most comprehensive auto policies provide coverage for vehicles damaged in a flood. If you have a collision-only policy, damage to vehicles may not be covered. 
  • If you experience damage, make a detailed list of all damaged or lost personal property, take photos, keep swatches of damaged material (like carpeting and furniture), and do not throw out damaged property without your claims adjuster's agreement. If local official requires you to dispose of damaged items, make sure you document damage with photos. It is also a good practice to keep a home inventory of personal property (see the 'Tip of the Month' above for more information.)

Policy considerations and climate change
With flooding in our state that has been deemed "unprecedented," community members are left wondering how our state and local policies--and climate change--are intertwined with these catastrophic events. According to a recent news article, researchers across the country have been documenting weather events, noting increased extreme tornado outbreaks, intense hurricanes, and extreme precipitation events are becoming more common.

It clear that climate change is not solely a problem for our future, but rather a here-and-now threat to our everyday lives. Rising temperatures (one of the more well-known consequences of climate change) increases the air's ability to hold in moisture. The result has been historic rainfall in recent years. In fact, in the last six years alone, Wisconsin has seen five 100-year floods and one 1,000-year flood.

Serious public health concerns come along with the changing climate, from flood-related food and waterborne illnesses, heat-related death, and increased power outages to higher incidences of diseases like Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus. A recent article in The Cap Times provides a more in-depth look at public health and climate change considerations that should be made by local and state lawmakers. Not only can we plant trees that can adapt to warmer temperatures, but strategies like increasing culvert capacity can help with the flooding that we will continue to see more of in the coming decades. 

At the state level, Republicans in the Legislature have taken us backward in environmental protections, specifically ones that are critical to flood management efforts. A bill passed into law last session chipped away wetland protections in our state. Wetlands have a flood storage capacity that will be critical to the safety of Wisconsin's residents as large rain events continue to happen more often.

Ensuring our land and air are clean and protected is essential to Wisconsin's safety, economy, and way of life. I will continue to fight for these shared values while in the Legislature. 
 

 

In the District

I frequently attend and host events in the 6th Senate District, tour local facilities, and visit schools in our neighborhood. Updates on what's happening locally in our community can be found in this section. I'll also include updates on listening sessions and EMPOWER-MKE events in this section in future editions. 

 

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Sherman Park Revival Celebration!
I was honored to help kick off the second Sherman Park Revival Celebration where over 300 students and their families enjoyed free family-friendly fun and school supplies! Thank you to the dedicated businesses and community members who made this event a success. See a photo slideshow from the event, here.

Lift Up Every Baby Event
The African American Breastfeeding Network and other community partners hosted the 4th Annual Lift Up Every Baby event on Saturday, August 25. The event serves as a community gathering to promote health and wellness as well as breastfeeding. I was honored to be able to attend this event and witness the hard work and dedication of our community members to work towards a goal of ensuring healthy families. 


Fiserv Forum Open House

The new entertainment venue and home of the Milwaukee Bucks officially opened its doors to the community on August 26. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by an Open House for the community to take a first look inside the arena. It was inspiring to see tens of thousands of community members tour the facility and have an opportunity to meet both current and former Milwaukee Bucks players. 

41st Annual Laborfest Celebration
On the first Monday of each September, we are reminded of the contributions made by hardworking Americans throughout our history. Labor Day is a yearly tribute to workers, who make our communities and state prosper. To celebrate and acknowledge our workers, Milwaukee has held Laborfest for 41 years. As a former union leader, I believe in the power of ensuring workers have a voice in basic workplace condition discussions, like determining hours, wages, and benefits. That said, it was great to once again take part in this annual event. 

 

 

In the News

I'm working hard for Wisconsinites and am fighting to make our communities a better, safer place to live and raise a family. This section of 'Community Connections' will keep you up-to-date on hot topics happening locally, statewide, and nationally. Additionally, I frequently talk to residents of our community, and share your voice and values when talking to members of the media. That said, I'll share articles that I am quoted in, too. 

 

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Protecting our Environment 
The John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club released its 2017-2018 Legislative Scorecard in August. Along with the Scorecard, they announced the list of 2018 'Environment Champions.' To be considered an environmental champion, a legislator must consistently vote to protect Wisconsin's environment. I believe that each Wisconsin family deserves access to safe and clean lands and waters, and am proud to been named as an Environment Champion.   

Wages and Poverty in Wisconsin
A recent report shows Wisconsin's private-sector wages as being lower than the national average. Additionally, workers in the private sector earn less than workers in many neighboring states, like Illinois and Michigan. 
Additionally, another report by the United Way shows that 38 percent of households in Wisconsin struggle to afford basic needs. If we want our communities to thrive, we need to make sure people have access to living wages to support their families. 


IRS Scams at an Influx
Please be aware that there are many reports of fake IRS calls happening lately. The scammers are threatening arrest if the call recipient doesn't pay for phony taxes. The IRS will never threaten arrest for back taxes, and you should hang up immediately if you receive one of these phone calls. Click here for more information about these scams in order to protect yourself!

An Exciting Update Regarding the Green Alert Legislation!
Wisconsin's Corey Adams Searchlight Act also referred to as the Green Alert bill, gained national attention after its passage last session as it is the first of its kind in the United States.

On July 23, the national membership of the Veterans of Foreign Wars VFW adopted a resolution calling on other states to adopt the Green Alert system to assist in finding at-risk, missing veterans.

As stated in the media release from Wisconsin VFW below, the Green Alert system in Wisconsin has already helped ensure the safe return of a veteran who went missing in June. I am excited to see a strong effort being made by stakeholders to see this critical, lifesaving system be successful nationally. In fact, Illinois and Delaware recently created similar systems in their states. 

Starting on January 1, 2019, Illinois will enact a system similar to Wisconsin's Green Alert after a constituent in Illinois reached out to their elected official urging them to take a look at our law. Further, last week, Delaware's governor signed into law a bill to create a Green Alert system as well.

 

Useful Phone Numbers

There are many levels of state and local government that can help answer questions and get you connected with resources you may need. I have listed some useful phone numbers below. You can also see a comprehensive list of numbers by clicking the link below. If you see a change needed or an important number that should be added, please let me know! 

Congresswoman Gwen Moore.............................414-297-1140
Governor Walker..................................................608-266-1212
Milwaukee Common Council...............................414-286-2221
Milwaukee Country Board....................................414-278-4222
Milwaukee Police Department.............................414-933-4444
Poison Control......................................................800-222-1222
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program..............800-815-0015

Medigap Helpline.................................................800-242-1060
Consumer Protection Hotline..............................800-422-7128
Department of Health Services............................608-266-1865
Workforce Development......................................608-266-3131
Public Service Commission..................................800-225-7729
SeniorCare Wisconsin.........................................800-657-2038
WI Commissioner of Insurance Complaints.......800-236-8517


For other useful phone numbers, click here!