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Bracing for rain, thaw: Milwaukee DPW deploys crews to clear snow, debris from sewer inlets

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MILWAUKEE -- First came the heavy snow and bitter cold. Now, get ready for a big thaw. That is exactly why the City of Milwaukee is committing multiple crews to clean around storm inlets and catch basins this weekend.

Using shovels and bulldozers, Milwaukee Department of Public Works (DPW) crews chipped away at the mounds of snow covering the city's storm drains on Friday, Feb. 1.

Brunch and lunch spot "Toast" is among the many businesses located near 2nd and Florida, considered a "lower level" area at risk of flooding this weekend.


"That could make it scary, especially if it makes it hard for folks to get to our building," said Eli Rivera, Toast general manager.

DPW says melting snow and a forecast for rain may pool along the road if it isn't able to drain; a hazard that could significantly impact business at Toast.

"Sales are four, fives times what they are during the week, just Saturdays and more so Sundays," said Rivera.

If Friday's grate-clearing efforts don't do the trick, public works will have emergency crews available to respond to various complaints. They're also asking residents to be proactive, like Dennis Malavsky -- owner of Central Bark Milwaukee Downtown

"We've cleared all the snow from our facility, we've been looking at the sewers and working the with the city to make sure everything is prepared so we don't incur any flooding this weekend," said Malavsky.

Despite also being located near the danger zone, Malavsky says he's never had flooding problems since taking over the facility five years ago.

"It's Wisconsin. We're pretty hearty people. We're prepared for all types of weather," Malavsky said.

The following emergency crews will be available to respond to various complaints:

  • Sewer Investigator Crews (2 personnel for each crew ) – respond to backwater complaints, sanitary overflows, missing lids, cave ins, etc.
  • 2 personnel hand crews - This crew will respond to cave-ins, barricading, surface ponding complaints.
  • Sewer Jets (2 sewer personnel for each crew) - This crew responds to clogged sewers and surface ponding complaints.
  • Jet -vacs (1 Sewer Crew Leader and 1 laborer) - this crew responds to clogged sewers, surface ponding complaints.
  • Flood Control Center Clerks: monitoring, dispatching, and resolving complaints on the computer data base.
  • Additional staff is on call if needed.

At the same time, Milwaukee DPW is encouraging resident to remove any obstructions that may be covering storm grates to eliminate any potential surface ponding.

If you are not able to assist with the clearing out, residents and motorists should report any surface ponding to 414-286-CITY (2489).

Milwaukee DPW crews clear snow from sewer inlets

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