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Green Bay council approves emergency declaration

By Melinda Anne Roberts

GREEN BAY – In his report to the Common Council on Tuesday, March 19, Mayor Jim Schmitt thanked everyone including council members and city staff “who were so compassionate and helpful with this flood that we experienced” the previous week.

“So many people were really Green Bay about this thing and terrific,” said Schmitt.

Schmitt referenced Grand Central Station on East Mason and Bellevue streets, which opened with free coffee and a place to stay warm. He also referenced U-Haul, which stepped up with free storage for those affected.

Council members were later asked to approve an emergency declaration pursuant to Wisconsin statutes.

East River flooding triggered the need for the declaration.

According to the declaration, the flooding had caused the city to “expand, commit and exhaust all of its available resources.”

The declaration asks for county assistance and requests the county advise the state of Wisconsin of the city’s emergency conditions.

“We do this for a couple of reasons,” said Schmitt. “One, it allows us to spend emergency dollars to enact the emergency provisions of closing streets and it puts us in a different mode.”

Emergency provisions also allow the city to petition for additional dollars should certain thresholds be reached, Schmitt said.

“While we don’t have the financing done and what’s going to be included and how that’s going to be dealt with just yet, it was imperative that the city move into this emergency declaration,” said Schmitt.

Assistant Fire Chief Robert Goplin said the emergency declaration will allow the city to “reach out for federal aid in the event that we reach those thresholds. It allows for the emergency powers under the emergency operations plan and/or as outlined in state statute.”

This gives the city the ability to block the roads and use other policies during the course of the emergencies, he said.

“One of the key points is paving the way to receive federal aid and really help to restore the community as fast as we can,” said Goplin.

Common Council Vice-President and District 4 Alderman Bill Galvin said “the response of the city was very well coordinated and very well done.”

Department of Public Works employees, firefighters and police officers were praised by residents, and Galvin said he heard numerous stories on how they were helped.

“It was neat to see how everything worked and came together,” said Galvin. “It’s been 29 years since we had an incident like this. The city sure seemed prepared and ready to deal with it as it progressed.”

The council adopted the emergency declaration by unanimous vote.

Schmitt said the money received from the federal government will be used to offset expenses.

“We’ve been keeping very close track of everything,” said Schmitt.

Some of those expenses include overtime, inspector fees, costs with public works and fire and police, said Schmitt.

The declaration identifies; the flooding of the East River as having affected the “health, safety, welfare and good order” of the city of Green Bay; “The flood Area” located in the areas bounded by the river – Cass Street, John Street, Kimball to John Street, and Eliza Street east of Goodell Street, south along Suydam Street to Emile Street.

The flood area was required to remain closed as of Wednesday morning, until conditions are safe for reentry.

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