On June 9, 2009, the boats and jetskis were back at Tommy Bartlett's water show. So were the hopes.
An early morning boat parade wasn't so much a show, but a celebration of the lake's rebirth.
"It was a rough year," said Dana Krueger, the owner of Sand County Vacation Rentals. "We had to do a lot of discounting"
"Now we're back," Krueger added. "It's like the icing on the cake."
"It's a great combination of hard work, and it's a celebration of the spirit of collaboration," state Tourism Department Decretary Kelli Trumble said during the morning celebration.
In the year since the devastation, the water has returned. Sauk County Highway A is stronger than ever. Even 9,000 walleye were restocked on this anniversary.
"It was like a war zone, it was like something was completely destroyed," said Ellen Capobianco, and Illinois tourist. She and her family stayed at the Wilderness on the Lake resort one year ago, and watched the water wash away. They and about two dozen others were offered a raincheck of sorts to come back on the anniversary.
"I can't believe they got it done so fast," said Joe Capobianco. "It's amazing they got it done so quickly."
That spirit is good for business. Of the approximately 700 businesses in the greater Dells area, 21 rely directly on there being a lake.
"This is the dawn of a new day, is the way I look at it," said Joe Eck, the general manager of Wilderness. "It's a grand re-opening."
In a bit of positive news from last year, Governor Jim Doyle said spending was actually up in the Dells region by 2.7-percent. He said those 21 businesses, however, that suffered. Doyle said they could survive one devasting summer, but not two.
Meanwhile, not everyone in the area has been celebrating as the anniversary approached. Property owners along Lake Delton filed a lawsuit against the village last week, asking for $1.3 million dollars.
The owners received $2.3 million from the state for condemnation rights as the lakeshore and a county road were rebuilt along it. The lawsuit seeks the difference between that amount and what they contend is fair market value of the property. The village has denied any negligence.
Email Carl Agnelly at firstname.lastname@example.org