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Heavy rains flood portion of I-43 near Good Hope Road, strand several motorists

MILWAUKEE -- Heavy rains caused flash flooding on the interstate Friday, Aug. 17. I-43 near Green Tree Road was shut down twice throughout with what was a frightening morning for some drivers.

"By the time I got here rain was over the barrier wall," said Nick Vliegenthart, witnessed flooding.

Heavy rain inundated I-43 during the morning rush. Nick Vliegenthart watched the water rise.

"Probably in a matter of 15 to 20 minutes. It got pretty deep pretty quick," said Vliegenthart.

The flooded construction zone overtook a handful of vehicles attempting to cruise through.

"Cars were floating by," said Vliegenthart. "Some people tried driving through it and weren't so lucky."

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One stranded driver was on the roof of her sedan when a small wave moved in. She was eventually guided to dry ground by a good Samaritan.

The snarling traffic caused trouble for first responders.

"Our units encountered on the way up here heavy traffic just because the freeway was at a standstill," said Chief Robert Whitaker, North Shore Fire Department.

Flooding on I-43 near Good Hope Road

Flooding on I-43 near Good Hope Road

Flooding on I-43 near Good Hope Road

North Shore Fire Department crews were called out.

"Once they got on-scene, found six cars stranded in the water, four of those cars had occupants in them," said Chief Whitaker.

 

One by one, people were plucked from their stalled vehicles with water rescue equipment.

Robert Whitaker

"Used a couple of pieces of equipment that we would normally use in water or pond or lake rescues," said Chief Whitaker.

The low-lying stretch of freeway has historically had challenges with flooding. Construction crews worked on drains to help the water flow.

"Once they opened that up it did recess pretty quickly," said Whitaker.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is working to identify what caused the severe flooding. A new, larger storm sewer will soon be going in. The should help with issues like this in the future.