Officials urge flood preparedness
By Joshua Staloch
BROWN COUNTY – A handful of Brown County officials met with a group of community leaders, media outlets and municipality representatives at the Brown County Emergency Operations Center Tuesday, Feb. 3, to discuss the area’s preparedness for what is anticipated to be a heavy upcoming spring flood season.
The message county officials want citizens to hear is simple: Do not take the possibility of spring flooding lightly, be prepared.
Brown County Sheriff Todd Delain said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given some local leaders a presentation on water levels throughout the Great Lakes region.
The bottom line is a stark warning for the immediate future as they learned all of the Great Lakes are at their highest levels in recorded history, aside from Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, whose water levels are expected to reach their own record highs later this month or in March.
“With that, we know that there’s no place for the water to go,” said Delain. “We’ve seen it already to start 2020. We’ve had flooding along the bay, in the town of Scott into the City of Green Bay around to Howard and Suamico. If you had near-flooding in the spring of 2019, you should be preparing for flooding in 2020.”
Brown County officials said they are doing all they can to plan for what might be an uncertain near future weather-wise and they are allocating resources accordingly.
“On the one end of the probability scale, we could have nothing,” said Brown County Public Works Director Paul Fontecchio. “On the other end of the scale, if we get a 4-inch rain storm on top of a big spring thaw like we had last year, it could be really, really bad. The truth is, it will probably be somewhere in-between, but being prepared is the most important thing.”
Municipal leaders are encouraging citizens to take action now. To be prepared, they said residents should:
• Do research on the area where you reside at floodinginbc.com. There, people can get specific floodplain information and sign up for emergency notifications through Code Red, a public service tool designed to get citizens alerted to emergency situations in their area.
• Talk to your insurance provider. Often, homeowners assume a basic policy will cover flood events, but it’s not the case.
• Keep an eye on those sump pumps. Due to current water levels, they’re working extra hard, so you should think about a second unit or a battery-powered backup.
• Get your basement and garage property up off the floor and onto a shelf or some sort of higher ground.
• Have an emergency kit ready. Flashlights, batteries, blankets and extra food should be on hand in case you’re restricted at all in an emergency event. Phones and chargers need to be ready to go, and don’t forget about medications.
• Consult with your municipality about resources they might have available. Brown County recently purchased a sandbagging machine and will be working with municipalities to distribute barrier materials.
• Have a plan for your pets. Unfortunately, in a situation where there needs to be a shelter for a large group of people to use for any amount of time, pets are often not allowed.
• Avoid driving or walking through flood waters.
• If officials ask you to evacuate, evacuate. They aren’t going to issue the order unless it’s absolutely necessary so take it seriously.