Janesville50.2°

Flooding brings thoughts of sand, shelter and safety

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JAMES P. LEUTE
April 4, 2008
— While Rock County officials keep their eyes on rising river levels, residents are being urged to check their wells and pick up free sandbags and sand to stem waters that are above flood stage and in some cases flowing over area roads.

And for those already displaced by flooding, the American Red Cross is opening a shelter in Fort Atkinson.


Rock County deputies said Thursday that the Rock River in Afton is at 10.20 feet, the same as it was Wednesday but still more than a foot above the flood stage of 9 feet. Water is lapping at the edge of South River and South Oakley roads and is 2 or 3 feet from South Christiansen.


The entrance to Happy Hollow Park is clear, but water is covering the park’s boat landing and grassy areas.


At Newville, the river is at 10.77 feet, slightly higher than it was Wednesday. Flood stage is 10 feet. In Indianford, the river’s level is 14.73 feet, just below its flood stage of 15 feet.


Deputies reported that the Sugar River in Avon Township has risen to 4.15 feet and is still below its flood stage of 5 feet. Water, however, is starting to run over Beloit-Newark Road and is at the edge of South Nelson Road.


The National Weather Service is forecasting light rain Sunday morning and isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening.


Rock County Health Department officials said that private wells could be contaminated from floodwater pollutants.


“With recent flooding on area rivers, owners should be aware that their drinking water can become unsafe,” said Rick Wietersen, the department’s groundwater program manager.


Bacterial, viral, parasitic or chemical contamination can enter the top of a well or seep down along a well’s casing and make drinking water unsafe, he said. Neighboring wells and shallow porous aquifers also can allow contamination to migrate underground.


Signs of contamination include:


-- An inundated well casing.


-- A change in the taste, color or sediment of the water.


-- Areas that are flooded.


-- Wells that are shallow cased.


“If you suspect your water could be impacted, you should obtain water from a known safe source for drinking, cooking and food preparation,” Wietersen said.


Water sample test kits are available at the Rock County Health Department offices, and a free bacteria test kit also is available. For more information, call (608) 757-5441 or (608) 364-2010.


In Jefferson County, the Red Cross shelter will open at 1 p.m. today at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 302 Merchants Ave., Fort Atkinson. It will remain open as long as needed, and more information is available from Margaret Majors at (920) 563-3055.


The agency also is offering free cleaning kits that include mops, brooms, buckets and cleaners.


Free sandbags and sand are available at these staging areas:


-- Beloit Town Hall, 2871 Afton Road.


-- Town of Fulton staging is at Finns Tavern, Highway 59 and Newville Road. Sandbags can be picked up at the town hall, 2738 W. Fulton Center Drive.


-- Town of Milton staging is at Mallwood Park at the end of the Road 2 East in Mallwood.


-- Rock Town Hall, 5102 County D, Afton.


Residents need to bring their own shovels.



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