Green Bay city leaders propose buying properties along East River to alleviate flooding

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Green Bay neighbors who live along the East River heard once again from city leaders about the efforts being taken to address flooding.

Cars stuck in the street after flooding in March along the East River.

Department heads and alders met with neighbors in May after homeowners experienced flash flooding in March.

Some homes were condemned and others suffered thousands of dollars in damages.

“We went through a lot of damage in March and we were finally able to get the basement repair guy in October, but we were finally able to get that so now we’re feeling a bit more comfortable,” said Mikel Perry.

On Wednesday, city leaders gave an update on what they have been working on to address the flooding.

One idea is for the city to buy properties in the flood plain.

“We're looking for volunteers who are willing to sell their homes, the city is not going to go in and force anybody out,” said Development Director, Kevin Vonck.

Perry says she and some of her other neighbors were surprised to learn the city might take this route.

Vocnk says 37 properties have been identified, and the city has applied for a grant through FEMA that would allow it to buy those properties and turn them into green space.

“What the grant involves, It provides funds for a community to go in and acquire homes and take them down and restore the area to a natural state. We felt with the given potential for future flooding in this area, that might be the best path for the city moving forward,” said Vonck.

We first told you in September the city was already in the process of buying properties from willing sellers.

“You might not be able to out engineer the flooding and so, we feel it's maybe more cost effective to work on a plan of acquisition,” said Vonck.

Neighbors say sandbags were recently put out along Eliza Street because the East River was coming up over the banks, and once again, heading to their homes.

“That worries me a bit, but hopefully we have enough reinforcements now to keep it at bay a little bit more,” said Perry.

Steve Grenier, the city’s public works director says the pipes under Hartung and Charles Street have been inspected and repaired to keep the water flowing away from homes.

The lift station at Eliza Street has also been upgraded.

He says the main problem is when Green Bay gets northeast winds, which makes the water flow upstream.

Both the police and fire chief also encouraged people to pay attention to flood warnings and watches and to have a plan for evacuating.

If you would like to learn more about selling your property to the city, you can call the city’s Community and Economic Development Department at 920-448-3300.