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Flooding roughs up Rock County

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GINA R. HEINE
January 21, 2008
— A garbage Dumpster floated downstream. An LP tank low on fuel floated away from a home. Piers at Townline Road and Highway 51 were blown on to shore from an ice surge.

It’s an usual sight resulting from winter flooding on the Rock River, something Beloit Township Assistant Fire Chief Gene Wright hasn’t seen in his 16 years there.


Flooding on the Rock River caused by ice dams is receding in Beloit Township but water still is on the rise in Rock Township, Beloit Township fire Captain Wayne Endthoff said this morning.


Residents and pets from six low-lying homes on Bass Creek and Christenson roads and Riverside Drive evacuated over the weekend, he said. Electricity and gas in the homes were shut off.


Firefighters used boats to help evacuate three residents and their pets from waist-deep water Sunday, Wright said.


“We had to break through ice and slushy ice to get to them,” he said Sunday.


Firefighters had to wear cold water suits to rescue them, he said.


Some residents were staying with friends and family while the Red Cross helped find housing for a couple of other residents, Endthoff said.


Firefighters handed out flyers Saturday and Sunday to residents, giving them information in case of evacuation, Wright said.


Happy Hollow Park also was under water and turned into a big skating rink, Endthoff said.


The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the area in effect until Tuesday night.


The Rock River was at 10.39 feet at 5:15 a.m. today—an increase of 0.13 feet in two hours.


Flood state is 9 feet.


Ice jams started Saturday around the County Q/Newark Road bridge and have backed up to at least Townline Road, Endthoff said.


“It’s so long now—several miles long,” he said. “Nature’s going to have to take its course.”


Opening the hydroelectric dam in downtown Beloit on Saturday afternoon helped “tremendously,” he said.


Officials are expecting the river to rise even more and are monitoring it.


Sandbagging wasn’t really an option, Endthoff said, because it’s not like a spring flood.


“The ice has so much tremendous force by the water pushing it, it’s possible the ice would have leveled the sandbags,” he said.


Shirley Connors of Rock County Emergency Management said she’s been working with the state and Winnebago County, Ill., officials in case more assistance is needed.


“It’s an unfortunate situation, and our hands are kind of tied,” she said. “I think that when it does break, we’re really going to have some rushing water.”


Rock County wasn’t the only area flooding.


The Sheboygan County sheriff’s department reported minor flooding there Sunday, and the National Weather Service issued flood warnings for the Fox River in Kenosha County and the Sheboygan River in Sheboygan County.


Flood stage is 10 feet for the Fox River, and Sunday night, it was at 10.15 feet, according to the weather service.


A car lot in Franklin, in Sheboygan County, reported some flooding, with cars frozen in the lot, according to the National Weather Service.



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