Kenosha County residents near the Fox River are bracing for flooding just shy of Flood Safety Awareness Week March 18-22.
“We’ve got a crew ready to help however we can,” said Allen Dunski, a Silver Lake resident who has organized volunteers during previous floods. “I don’t think I have ever seen it come up this far, this quick.”
The Fox River rose nearly 2 feet, from 10.98 feet to 12.63 feet, between 3:45 p.m. Wednesday at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Minor flood stage is 11 feet; moderate flood stage is 13 feet, and major flood stage is 14 feet.
The National Weather Service forecast calls for the river to crest at 14.5 feet, which would be tie for the fourth-highest crest on record.
At 14 feet, there is widespread flooding of homes in Wheatland and Salem Lakes along Riverside Drive, Shorewood Drive, 101st Street and Shorewood Terrace.
Dunski said the water was about 6 inches from South Riverside Drive Thursday afternoon. He contacted Salem Lakes Administrator Mike Murdock, who delivered “Road Closed” signs in anticipation the water would reach the roadway by nightfall.
Kenosha County made sandbags available Thursday at the Highway Pit, 32302 116th St. (Highway C), and the Kenosha County Division of Health urged people to take precautions.
“Springtime flooding is already happening on the Fox River, and it’s likely to pop up elsewhere, too, as all of that snow that we saw over the winter melts rapidly,” said Cynthia Johnson, Kenosha County Division of Health Director and Health Officer. “It’s important for people to emphasize personal and family safety, and to prepare before flooding begins.”
The Health Department offered a number of flood preparation tips, including:
Stock an emergency supply kit: Kits should include a three-day supply of food and water, a cellphone and charger, a flashlight and batteries, a can opener, first aid kit, extra cash and a change of clothes.
Move electronics off the floor: If there is an active flood warning, move electric appliances off the floor and make sure your sump pump is working and has a battery-operated backup.
Consider adding flood insurance: Standard insurance policies generally don’t cover flooding. Flood insurance is available for homeowners, renters and business owners through the National Flood Insurance Program.
It also offers the following tips during and after a flood:
Do not drive through floodwaters: It takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a car.
Stay out of floodwaters: Floodwater can contain bacteria, sewage, sharp objects and other dangerous items.
Make sure tetanus vaccinations are up to date: A same-day tetanus vaccination should be administered to those who acquire a puncture wound in floodwater or have open wounds exposed to floodwaters in the home or outdoors.
Drain basements slowly: Basements containing standing water should be emptied gradually — no more than 2-3 inches per day. If a basement is drained too quickly, the water pressure outside the walls will be greater than the water pressure inside, which may cause the basement floor and walls to crack and collapse.
Shut off electrical power if you suspect damage to your home: Even if the damage isn’t easily seen, shut off electrical power, natural gas and propane tanks to avoid fire, electrocution or explosions.
Use battery-powered lanterns to light homes rather than candles: Candles could trigger an explosion if there is a gas leak.
Use generators at least 20 feet from your home: Generators create carbon monoxide. In enclosed spaces, the carbon monoxide can build up and cause sickness or death.
Throw out food if you can’t be sure it’s safe: Throw out any refrigerated food if your power was out for four hours or more. If frozen foods still have ice crystals, they can be refrozen. Any food that was touched by floodwaters — even canned food — should be thrown out.
Look out for mold: Follow the recommended steps for cleaning mold growth. More details are here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/mold/index.htm.
Check your water supply: If you have municipal water, run your faucet for at least five minutes before using it. If you have a well that touched floodwater, follow steps to disinfect it. Well water testing instructions from the Kenosha County Division of Health are available here: http://bit.ly/KCWellTesting.
For more information, visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ Flood Hazards and Recovery page at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/flood/index.htm.