Fed-up residents call on officials to fix flooding

Port homeowners tell council last week’s deluge was another in a series of floods that inundated their properties

PILES OF furniture and carpeting ruined by flooding like this one on Holden Street were seen along curbs throughout Port Washington earlier this week before city street department workers began collecting the garbage with the help of front-end loaders and dump trucks. Photo by Bill Schanen IV
Ozaukee Press staff

About a half dozen Port Washington residents whose homes were damaged by severe flooding last week implored the Common Council for help, saying steps need to be taken to mitigate the risk in the future.

They’ve dealt with flooding several times and they’re fed up, several said.

“I’m really upset. We didn’t have a couple inches of water in that basement. We had seven feet,” said Wendy Mueller, 235 N. Spring St., adding they lost furniture, their air conditioning unit, washer, dryer, refrigerator, water heater and possessions that include her son’s 300-piece bobblehead collection.

“Our back yard smells like a swamp. It stunk for days. Our garage isn’t cleaned out, she said. “Basically the city used our back yard as a retention pond. If it doesn’t get fixed, it’s going to happen again and it’s going to cost us another $25,000.

“Our houses are worth nothing unless the city takes care of it. It’s a problem and it needs to be fixed. We need your help. Do something — I’m begging you. That’s it.”

Greg Williams, 223 N. Spring St., told aldermen his house has flooded during major storms three times since 1986.

“I’m asking for myself and I’m asking for my neighbors. We can’t get flood insurance. No flood insurance means no insurance. No insurance means we foot the bill for what happens,” he said.

The city came up with a plan to deal with the problem several years ago but it required the approval of neighbors, Williams said, adding he opposed it after an engineer he knows told him it wouldn’t be effective.

“If the city were serious, they would have done something anyway,” he said.

He suggested the city create a retention pond in the area, which is a low spot, buying some of the houses that perennially flood to do it.

“My house is basically worth zero. I’m never going to be able to sell that house. The only people I could sell it to is the city,” Williams said,  “Something has to be done. I feel the city is culpable. The city’s insurance should be reimbursing us for our costs.

“You seem to be helping businesses all the time with TIF money. What about helping citizens who have been paying taxes all this time and have gotten flooded out each and every time. I’m not asking for a handout for anybody. I’m asking for a hand up.”

City Administrator Mark Grams said the city plans to take another look at what can be done to mitigate flooding in the area.

The Board of Public Works will begin the process when it meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11, at City Hall, he said.

“We will definitely go back and take a look at that (previous plan) and see if it’s the best alternative,” Grams said. “We will see if there are any other alternatives.”

Ald. Mike Gasper asked that in addition to the west-side flooding problems, the city also look at the culvert in Veterans Park that clogged during the storm to see if it needs to be larger.

Flooding in that area filled the underground parking level at the Lighthouse Condominiums, destroying numerous vehicles.

Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said one of the biggest problems is that the culvert has been clogged by debris in recent floods.

“It’s hard to model the amount of debris that’s coming down,” he said.

Gasper said he fears the flooding could reach the water filtration plant, causing it to shut down. During last week’s flood, he noted, there was some flooding in the basement there.

“Water coming in and flooding the plant is not good at all,” he said. “We were a couple feet of water in the basement away from not being able to run our plant.”


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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