Water continues to rise along flooded Fox River

BY JILL TATGE-ROZELL
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jrozell@kenoshanews.com

The Fox River continued to rise Thursday, flooding several streets in Wheatland, Salem and Silver Lake. It is expected to crest at 13.7 feet by Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

Ed VanTine, director of Kenosha County Emergency Management, said a reverse 911 call was issued to homes that could be affected by flooding.

“We have gotten a couple of calls in response to the reverse 911 message from people asking where it was expected to crest,” VanTine said.

Flood stage begins at 10 feet. At 12.5 feet, water begins to enter homes in low-lying subdivisions in Wheatland, Salem and Silver Lake. The river had reached 12.96 feet by 1 p.m. Thursday.

Areas of flooding on South Riverside Drive in Silver Lake and 317th Avenue in Wheatland, south of Luisa’s restaurant, were reported Thursday morning. Shorewood Drive in Salem was closed due to flooding. Salem Administrator Patrick Casey said access to homes is not affected by the road closure as alternate routes are available.

Kenosha County Highway Director Gary Sipsma said crews are keeping a close eye on Highway 50 near the Fox River. The river has reached the highway during flash flooding events in recent years.

A crest of 14 feet — the start of the National Weather Service major flood stage — would be the third highest on record. The Fox River reached a record 15.18 feet on June 15, 2008, breaking the previous record of 14.98 feet set the year before.

In 2008, Kenosha County was one of 30 counties declared eligible for diasater assistance. More than 90 people applied for assistance. One home was destroyed, 40 sustained major damage, 24 sustained minor damage and countless others were affected by flooding.

John Meland, who administers a property buyout program funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said 100 homes in the Fox River floodplain have been purchased since the program started in 1995.

While some residents had been reluctant to sell their homes over the years, Meland said the 2008 floods changed some minds. A $2.2 million FEMA Hazard Mitigation grant helped purchase 12 properties since the 2008 flood. There are three or four more properties still eligible for the 2008 buyout program, which is nearing the end of its five-year deadline, he said.

“We don’t know if they will participate or not,” Meland said.

No money is available to purchase homes affected by flooding after 2008. A Federal Disaster Declaration is required to trigger the grant application process, Meland said.

More you need to know

-- Kenosha County has made pre-filled sandbags available to residents at the gravel pit on Highway C, west of Wilmot.

-- Residents needing assistance may contact the American Red Cross at 1-800-236-8680. Three shelters have been placed on stand-by in Kenosha and Racine counties.

Weather forecast

Saturday looks to be the only dry day in the forecast through Wednesday. The National Weather Service forecast for Kenosha calls for a 50 percent chance of rain and snow showers today and a 40 to 50 percent chance of rain Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

As a result of the continued wet forecast, the Fox River is expected to remain above the 10-foot flood stage through next week.

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