The winter that wouldn't quit has left its mark on Wisconsin.
"We've had bad winters in the past,” said Dave Lawrence, the Wisconsin Rural Water Association executive director. “But this was unique. I've been in the industry for close to 45 years and I've never seen anything like this."
Frozen pipes and water main breaks from the harsh weather has cost the state millions of dollars. Now, communities need help. Leaders at the Wisconsin Rural Water Association took action.
"I contacted the governor's office and just by email and asked if there was any way something like this could be considered for a disaster declaration," said Lawrence.
Under the plan, the state would seek FEMA funding to assist in costs for this winter. This is something leaders say barely happens.
"This is apparently outside the norm for disaster declarations,” said Lawrence. “They generally deal with tornadoes and one time events, and a long term sustained disaster is something a little bit unusual."
Now, counties are beginning to fill out the stacks of paperwork needed to justify a disaster. In central Wisconsin, Marathon County disaster leaders are starting that process.
"First it's the process of proving to FEMA that we had the damage that it impacted the state adversely," said Steve Hagman, the emergency management director of Marathon County.
Damage he says he's never seen before.
"That was between $500,000 to $600,000," said Hagman.
Other places like the city of Rhinelander has said additional costs this winter were a half a million dollars.
Other counties also beginning this process, and leaders say getting a disaster declaration for winter is rare.
"Wisconsin's used to having winters like this,” said Lawrence. “But not statewide like this. I mean this was all the way border to border."
The next step is to have the state approve the FEMA application. It can go all the way to the President.
Leaders say they don't know how long it will take to get a decision on federal aid.