Kewaunee on the verge of serious flood issues

Published: Jan. 9, 2020 at 2:58 PM CST
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Today's rainy and windy weather is yet another reminder of why flooding and erosion concerns are rising along Lake Michigan.

The record high water levels are already on the verge of causing serious problems in Kewaunee.

As another round of strong easterly winds pound Kewaunee's shoreline, the city's harbor is rising.

"Never seen it this high," says Andy Lafond.

Just outside the back door of LaFond's Fish Market, the Kewaunee River is flowing dangerously close.

150 yards of large rock recently put in is all that's keeping the water out.

"And now we're going to put concrete, big concrete blocks two foot square by six feet long, interlocking on the outside edge just to try and protect what we have here," says LaFond.

Next door at Harbor Express, owner Steve Dax has done the same thing, but he has no idea if it will be enough to prevent further erosion and debris from piling up next to his business.

"Truthfully it's puzzling because what do you do and how do you know what's going to really happen, and how do you control Mother Nature," says Dax.

Over the past month, Dax along with other business owners and city leaders have formed a local flood task force.

"It's to try to one, educate ourselves, what's actually going to happen in the long term with our water, they're predicting higher water levels but what does that actually look like and what does that mean for our infrastructure, what does that mean for our roads, bridges and so forth," says Fred Schnook, Kewaunee City Administrator.

Right now the city is having to constantly pump lake water out of a nearly flooded lift station, hoping the pump doesn't freeze.

"The sewer is our big concern because if our sewage treatment plant floods, well then we can't flush toilets and then you're got a real emergency," says Schnook.

In Kewaunee, all eyes are on the water, and everyone is wondering what's next.

"If we get another foot of water into this basin, we'll have to move, it's the party is over, can't hold it back any more," says LaFond.

On Monday night at Kewaunee's city council meeting, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal forecasters will discuss rising lake levels and what the city can expect in the coming months.

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