Water levels receding, but there’s plenty to clean up in Racine and Kenosha Counties

BURLINGTON -- Water levels are receding and roads are reopening in Racine and Kenosha Counties. But there is still a lot to clean up after the severe flooding.

Racine County

At Veterans Terrace near Echo Lake, there was eight feet of water building up around the building. Flood doors helped keep the damage down.

"From this corner, there's was probably two feet of mud," Bill Smitz said.

Veterans Terrace

Even after the severe flooding, weddings will go on at Veterans Terrace. The main hall upstairs was good to go after the flooding. Repairs on the lower level, on the other hand, will take months. Scuba teams and flood panels did help to keep the water out.

Veterans Terrace

Veterans Terrace

Flood panels at Veterans Terrace

"We were putting the panels on as the water was flowing in," Smitz said.

Burlington Police Department

On Monday, July 17th, Burlington City Hall remained closed due to flood damage. Water was being pumped from the basement of the Burlington Police Department as well.

At the Fox River State Bank, 21 inches of water filled the bank as the Fox River rushed in. Offices were water-logged and files soaked. Fortunately, the computer system was OK. Some money did get wet.

"The money that's wet has to be decontaminated and then sent back to the federal reserve and they fully replace that, so there's no loss on that whatsoever," Keith Pollek with Fox River State Bank said.

Fox River State Bank

Fox River State Bank

More than 80 members of the Wisconsin National Guard were deployed in Burlington and assisted in emergency efforts. They moved out on Saturday.

The Fox River in Burlington in Racine County was at minor flood stage Monday, July 17th -- 11.07 feet. It should drop below flood stage Tuesday. It crested on the morning of July 13th at its highest historical level of 16.5 feet.

Echo Lake Dam was opened a small amount on July 14th to relieve pressure on the structural concrete and earth embankments. The concrete is holding, officials said Monday, but they noted erosion of the earth embankment is a concern. The lake is being drawn down so repairs can be make. Officials noted the draw down is very slow, so no changes in water level are expected downstream. It's unclear how long dam repairs could take.

Officials said electric to the Wehmhoff‐Jucker, Riverside, and Wagner park pavilions would be turned off due to severe flooding in the parks.

The Red Cross shelter at Burlington High School remains open -- and in Kenosha County, the Red Cross turned Salem Grade School into an emergency shelter. The Burlington High School shelter will close Tuesday.

Racine County officials are asking that victims please report their flood damage. If you have been affected by the recent floods, please report property damage to Impact 2-1-1 by either visiting the website HERE, by texting [898-211] or by dialing 211. This information will help officials assess the degree of damage. If your family, friends or neighbors do not have internet access, please ask them to also report their property damage to 2-1-1.

Officials on Monday said debris management is a primary concern. Sandbags, 40 pounds and under, can be placed on the curb for pickup by Johns Disposal. The City of Burlington has contracted with Johns Disposal to assist residents in disposing of flood-damaged items. The special pickups will begin Monday and run through July 28th. Residents should put their regular garbage out on their regularly-scheduled day, and residents with flood-damaged items can place the items out daily at the location you receive collection. Residents with non-flood-related items are asked to hold off until July 29th.

Residents participating in this special pick‐up service should follow these  preparation steps for the disposal of damaged items:

  • Debris must be contained in cans or bags not exceeding 33‐gallons in size and no heavier than 45 lbs. each.
  • Debris may be bundled; however, cannot exceed 45 lbs.  in weight and four feet in length and no wider than two feet in diameter.
  • Carpeting must be rolled, taped, or tied. Carpet, after being rolled and tied,should be no longer than four feet in length and no wider than two feet in diameter and weigh no more than 45 lbs. each.
  • Larger items such as  damaged furniture may be placed at the curb adjacent to garbage/recycle  containers
  • Empty contents and remove refrigerator/freezer doors for safety purposes.

The Central Racine County Health Department will have free cleanup kits, including mops, buckets and other items. They're available at the Town of Waterford Hall and Police Department, Union Grove Piggly Wiggly and Burlington High School.

In an update Monday morning, officials stressed that City of Burlington water is safe to drink. If you have a well, it may not be safe to drink your water. You're asked not to drink your water if you notice any difference in it. Officials noted that there's no boil order in effect, but they're recommending you chlorinate your well and test for bacteria. Free well water test kits will be available Monday at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, Burlington Town Hall, Yorkville Town Hall and Waterford Town Hall. Bottled water is available for free at Burlington High School.

Kenosha County

In Kenosha County, local and state officials toured the affected areas Monday morning, and assessed damaged roadways.

Among those in attendance were:

  • Wisconsin State Assembly Representative Samantha Kerkman
  • Division of State Patrol Superintendent JD Lind
  • WisDOT DTSD Deputy Administrator Dewayne Johnson
  • WisDOT Bureau of Technical Services Director Steve Krebs
  • WisDOT Bureau of Structures Director Scot Becker
  • WI Emergency Management Administrator Brian Satula
  • DNR Dam Safety Engineer William Sturtevant
  • County Board Supervisor Erin Decker
  • Wisconsin National Guard Colonel Tim Covington
  • Red Cross Representative Beverly Vaillancourt
  • Department of Natural Resources Representative Joe Liebau Jr.
  • Village of Salem Lakes Village Administrator Patrick Casey

Officials with the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department and Wisconsin Emergency Management held a press conference Monday afternoon at the Silver Lake Village Hall in the Village of Salem Lakes to offer an update, as the process began to assess the cost of the damage.

All Kenosha County residents, businesses or farms that sustained flood damage are reminded to report that damage to the Kenosha County Emergency Management Flood Hotline at 262-605-7924, leaving a message detailing the damage sustained. Damage may also be reported by email at disaster@kenoshacounty.org. Reporting damage will assist the county in its efforts to obtain disaster relief funding.

According to a press release from Kenosha County officials, municipalities had until 3:00 p.m. Monday to submit their individual estimates to Lt. Horace Staples, Kenosha County Emergency Management director. The combined total for all of southeastern Wisconsin will be sent to the federal government in an effort to receive a presidential disaster declaration and the associated financial aid.

The American Red Cross set up a shelter at Salem Grade School -- open to anyone who needs somewhere to sleep and shower.

In a news release Monday evening, officials indicated a "Multi-Agency Response Center" will open at Riverview School at 300 E. Prosser Street in Silver Lake later this week.

A new supply of water test kits was expected to arrive in Kenosha County Monday afternoon.

They are being made available at the former Silver Lake Village Hall, 113 S. First Street, and at other area town and village halls, the Kenosha County Center at highways 45 and 50 in Bristol and the Kenosha County Job Center, 8600 Sheridan Road in Kenosha. Affected residents may pick up a kit at any locations. People are encouraged to call head to confirm availability. The county Division of Health will pick up samples for testing at 2:00 p.m. each day this week at the County Center, the former Silver Lake Village Hall and the Salem Lakes Village Hall, 9814 Antioch Road (Highway 83). Collection times and locations for next week will be announced Friday.

Residents whose wells were submerged by floodwaters are urged to disinfect and test their well water before drinking it. Additionally, the Kenosha County Division of Health suggests affected residents proceed with disinfecting their wells, as water should not be tested until 24 hours after disinfection. A guide to disinfecting wells appears on pages 10 and 11 of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Flood Toolkit, available HERE.

The county Division of Health on Monday collected samples for beach water quality testing on Silver Lake and other lakes affected by flooding. Results will be reported once they become available Tuesday HERE.

Officials stressed that everyone's health and safety is a top priority. Kenosha County public health nurses were made available beginning Monday to treat people who believe they may be experiencing health effects as a result of flooding. Forty-one vaccines were provided at Silver Lake Village Hall Monday.

Tetanus vaccinations will be available to those who experienced puncture wounds in the floods. Nurses will be on duty beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the Kenosha County Center, Highways 45 and 50 in Bristol; the former Silver Lake Village Hall, 113 S. First Street in the Village of Salem Lakes; and the Kenosha County Job Center, 8600 Sheridan Road in Kenosha.

Floodwater cleaning kits, provided by the Salvation Army, are also available at town and village halls and the Kenosha County Center.

Officials are reminding people to beware of scams from supposed cleanup companies and people claiming to be with relief agencies seeking personal
information. Those who believe they may have been targeted by a scammer should call Kenosha Joint Services dispatch at 262-656-1234. A list of area water damage restoration companies, compiled by the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department can be accessed HERE.

Two extra Kenosha County sheriff's deputies were placed on the west side of Kenosha County to check on residents and respond to service calls. They said the majority of the issues have been people going around barricades, and entering blocked off roadways.

The following roads remain closed due to flooding:

  • Highway 50 at the Fox River Bridge (Highway W) -- which will remain closed until at least Tuesday. Officials said while water on the roadway is receding, the roadbed underheath the pavement must dry out before the highway can reopen.
  • Highway W north of Highway F
  • Highway B from Highway F to Highway AH
  • Highway EA from Highway S to Highway L

Authorities have reminded boaters not to make wakes on Silver Lake and other areas where there are lakeside or riverside flooding. There have been reported instances where waves caused by boats have lapped up to the doorways of homes.

From noon on Monday July 10th until noon Sunday July 16th, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department responded to 1,263 calls for service, including: 134 reports of road hazards, 86 motorists assist calls, 29 medical calls, 171 traffic stops (inclusive of vehicles that have driven past traffic barricades), 50 service calls, 20 citizen assist calls, eight boating law violations, and 105 other additional patrols.

Officials have asked that citizens traveling in Kenosha County please note that the Kenosha County Highway Department is working vigorously to repair any roadway or ditch line that may have been compromised from the floodwaters. These areas are sporadic and ongoing. Caution while traveling should always be observed.

Donation information:

  • The Sharing Center is accepting cash donations to help Kenosha County residents affected by flooding. Donations may be made online at thesharingcenter.net, in person at 25700 Wilmot Road, or by mail to P.O. Box 172, Trevor, WI 53179.
  • The Sharing Center is also in need of cleaning supplies – specifically, bleach, rubber gloves, large black garbage bags, masks and large square-nose shovels – to distribute to flood-affected residents. Note: the Sharing Center cannot accept donations of baby formula.
  • Those in need of help are urged to contact the Sharing Center at 262-298-5535 or by email at director@thesharingcenter.net.
  • Donations to the American Red Cross may be earmarked for the Kenosha County floods.
  • Burlington Flood Relief Fund: Donate at any North Shore Bank location; money collected will benefit Love Inc. in Burlington (assisting flood victims)
  • Burlington Flood Relief Account: Donate at any BMO Harris Bank or Community Bank
  • Samaritan's Purse is in SE WI to assist with the flood relief efforts. Donations can be made HERE.