Janesville55.9°

Neighbors offer help

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Mike DuPre'
June 13, 2008
— As a downburst tapered into a shower Thursday afternoon, neighbors in Mallwood Estates on Lake Koshkonong helped each other sandbag their homes.

They were trying to keep floodwater at bay, but the lake and the Rock River flowing out of it just south of their neighborhood continued to rise.


“Everybody’s pitching in,” said Todd Bailey of Janesville. “Everybody’s out here—and their extended families.”


Teen boys hefted sandbags onto their shoulders and waded through muddy, shin-deep water to reinforce the temporary walls keeping the rising lake from ever-nearer buildings.


Men turned shovelfuls of sand into bags. They pushed wheelbarrows filled with sandbags up to the flood’s edge.


Bailey was helping his parents and their neighbors protect their property.


“I don’t think it’s been like this in a long, long time,” Bailey said. “It’s pretty unique how these guys are working with different kinds of contraptions (to contain the water).”


The contraptions were sump pumps, plastic tubes, sandbags and “hard labor,” Bailey said.


Many property owners in Mallwood Estates live in Illinois and enjoy the lake on weekends and vacations. When they get to their summer homes, they will find that their neighbors have tried to protect their property.


Barb Barrington-Tillman, chief deputy of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office, was touring the neighborhood to assess flooding.


She told Bailey that the sheriff’s office would make jail inmates on the RECAP program available to help with sandbagging and that more free bags and sand are available.


Barrington-Tillman ticked off the areas along the Rock River and Lake Koshkonong that are the county’s most flooded sites:


-- Mallwood Estates.


-- Ellendale Road in Newville.


-- Riverside Park and the Mole-Sadler subdivision in Janesville.


-- South River Road from Happy Hollow Park to the Highway 11 Bypass.


She and other county officials have been poring over maps that show low spots prone to flooding.


But seeing the water lapping at doorways, surrounding homes and edging inexorably up roads create a different experience, Barrington-Tillman said.


“When you’re out here and looking at the mud and water and the look on people’s faces, it’s a lot different than looking at a map,” she said. “It humanizes the whole thing.”


Earlier Thursday afternoon, as Barrington-Tillman drove through yet-another downpour, she said: “Obviously, this isn’t going to help our situation. We could get 2 inches more this afternoon. According to National Weather (Service), we’re going to be under these conditions all weekend.”


Sheriff’s deputies are keeping an eye on flooded areas and probably will be out this morning to recommend that residents in the worst-hit locales evacuate their homes, Barrington-Tillman said.


“We hope that people plan to evacuate,” she said, adding that those who do should contact the sheriff’s office with their contact information.


PREPARE YOUR HOME

The Department of Natural Resources recommends these steps for home- or business-owners facing the threat of flooding:


-- Elevate the furnace, water heater, electric panel, air conditioner and other utilities if susceptible to flooding.


-- Install “check valves” in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.


-- Construct interior barriers to stop low-level floodwater from entering portions of a basement or building.


-- Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.


-- Remove inventory or important papers and possessions from the basement.


-- Back up important computer files and store in a secure off-site location.


More flooding health and safety tips can be found at http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/eh/DisasterHealthSafety/flooding.htm.


BELOIT MEMORIAL FLOODING

Students and staff sandbagged entrances and moved materials off the floor at Beloit Memorial High School on Thursday in anticipation of record flooding.


That’s according to Janesville Craig High School Principal Mike Kuehne, who was one of several Janesville adults and students who heard about the work and went to help.


Kuehne said Beloit Memorial Principal Carlton Jenkins and his helpers had matters well in hand, however, and the Janesville folks hung around for only a short while. Kuehne said he saw some Beloit Turner shirts there as well.


FLOODING RESOURCES

Shelter: St. John's Lutheran Church, 302 N. Parker Drive, Janesville, opened its doors as a flood shelter Thursday afternoon, said Barb Barrington-Tillman, chief deputy for the Rock County Sheriff's Office.


If you evacuate: People who decide to evacuate their homes should contact the Rock County Sheriff's Office with the following information:


-- Address of the property evacuated.


-- Name of the homeowner and a daytime telephone number.


-- Names of the residents and their daytime telephone numbers.


-- Location of where they will stay temporarily and a contact phone number for their temporary location.


Such information should be relayed by calling the sheriff's office at (608) 757-8000 and contacting the records department. A recorded prompt directs callers to the records department.


Report problems: If people are affected by flooding and want to report their situations, they should call the 911 Dispatch Center's non-emergency number (608) 757-2244, Barrington-Tillman said.


If people encounter an emergency, they should call 911.


Sandbags: Rock County has acquired another 20,000 sandbags for residents to contain floodwaters, and the sheriff’s office is making a limited number of jail inmates on the RECAP program available to help with sandbagging, Barrington-Tillman said.


The county is offering free sand and bags for residents affected by flooding on the Rock River and Lake Koshkonong. The materials are available at:


-- Beloit Town Hall, 2871 S. Afton Road, Beloit. Call (608) 364-2980.


-- Fulton Town Hall, 2738 W. Fulton Center Drive, Edgerton. Call (608) 868-4103. After work hours, call (608) 751-4820.


-- Town of Janesville area, pick up at the bar on North West River Road, across Highway 14 from the Redwood Motel, 3912 N Hackbarth Road, Janesville.


-- Milton Town Hall, 23 First St., Milton. Call (608) 868-2465. Bags are also available at Mallwood Park at the end of Road 2 East in Mallwood Estates. Mallwood residents can call Scott Barker (608) 884-4882 to arrange to pick up bags.


-- Rock Town Hall, 5102 S. County D, Afton. Call (608) 362-0598.


-- Telfer and Krueger parks in Beloit.


Residents should bring shovels to fill the bags.



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