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Ice jam floods normally dry areas in Ozaukee Co.: ‘Don’t know that we’ve ever seen it this high’

MEQUON -- On Wednesday, Feb. 21, crews were busy physically removing ice from the Milwaukee River in Newburg. Officials further downstream said Sunday, Feb. 25 they hope warm weather will take care of what has become a growing mess.

"Every year the water is high, but I don't know that we've ever seen it this high," said Jake Knox.

It was enough for Jake Knox to pull over and show his family the massive amount of ice that has caused normally dry areas in Ozaukee County to flood.

"All the ice bunched up on the river, so then all the water had to come over here to flood," said Oliver Knox.

Scott Ziegler

It's not the first time something like this has happened. It happened in January of 2017, but Scott Ziegler, Ozaukee County Emergency Management director said that was nothing compared to what crews are now facing.

"Being north of the bridge, it's going to be a little harder for it to naturally relieve. It may take a little longer," said Ziegler.

The worst area could be found along Highway C, at the border of Mequon and the Town of Grafton.

"One of the pieces of ice was about the same length as a barn right along the river here -- 50 to 60 feet long is one chunk of ice," said Ziegler.

Some chunks of ice were about 10 inches thick, and the backup practically created a lake adjacent to the river. A string of rainy days seemed to make things worse, but there's hope warmer-than-normal temperatures might help.

"It's a lot of ice and a lot of water!" Henry Nadolny said.

"Just let nature take its course. Let the jam relieve themselves and the water naturally migrate down the river," Ziegler said.

A nearby park and private driveway were already under water Sunday. Ziegler said sandbagging won't help because the ice will just push the makeshift barriers out of the way.

"You never know. Mother Nature is... you never know!" Ziegler said.

Emergency management crews were out all weekend assessing the high water. Their biggest concern is people pulling over to have a look. Officials said you should stay away from the area, because some spots are deceptively deep.