Port of Milwaukee roads flooded; public access to Jones Island prohibited

MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- (WISN) -- The Port of Milwaukee halted operations and access to Jones Island on Saturday after an "unprecedented" set of factors -- 50 mph wind gusts, 15-feet high waves and near-record lake levels -- caused flooding damage.

All the major roadways at the port are flooding, along with terminal buildings on Jones Island.

Tenants at the port have voluntarily halted their operations Saturday.

Vessel arrivals scheduled for the next two days had already been delayed because of conditions on Lake Michigan.

Port Milwaukee staff members are on-site, taking steps to reduce damage and prepare for the resumption of operations. It is not clear when the flooding will subside and normal operations at Port Milwaukee will resume.

"This is definitely a force nature act of God event. Unfortunately, we're just in a waiting period. We are cautiously optimistic the damage will not be significant, but I do remain a little bit nervous what the future will show when the water recedes,” Port Director Adam Schlicht said.

Great Lakes water levels have been at or near all-time highs for much of the past year. That, combined with very high wind conditions, has allowed waves to wash over the breakwall and dock walls around the port. At some locations on Jones Island under the Hoan Bridge, floodwaters have reached a depth of 3 feet.

The National Weather Service has Port Milwaukee under a gale warning with the potential for wind gusts of 50 mph and waves over 15 feet. That warning remains in effect until early Sunday morning.

Port Milwaukee staff and tenants will evaluate storm damage in the coming days. Initial inspections suggest the flooding impacts may be significant.