Janesville42.3°

Janesvillians voice concerns about rising Rock River

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ANN MARIE AMES
March 28, 2009
— If the Rock River has already seeped into your house or business, it is there to stay for at least a week.

If you’ve avoided flooding, you probably are in the clear this time around.


That was the message Friday afternoon at the Janesville Municipal Building during the city’s first flooding informational session of the year.


About 50 Janesville property owners attended.


The river isn’t close to the record high it hit in June 2008. In fact, water levels dropped a little from Thursday to Friday.


But the city learned a lot about the river’s behavior last summer, said Mike Payne, city engineering manager.


“It’s obviously fresh in our minds,” Payne said.


The city called the meeting to establish early lines of communication in case they become necessary later in the season, Payne said.


The river was at 10.82 feet at the National Weather Service gauge in Afton during Friday’s meeting. That was down a tick from Wednesday’s high of 11.14 feet.


Payne noted the river was at 10.8 feet at Afton last summer when the city started measuring water levels in downtown Janesville.


This weekend


The National Weather Service at Sullivan predicts that by Sunday the Rock River could crest at 11 feet at Afton. The water is expected to stay at that level for about seven days, according to the service’s Web site.


“If you’re affected right now, you will continue to be,” Payne said. “If you’re not affected right now, you shouldn’t be as long as the precipitation forecast doesn’t change.”


The weather service Friday issued a winter storm warning for southern Wisconsin for late this afternoon. Cold rain will turn to snow with a total of 4 to 8 inches predicted for the Monroe, Janesville and Elkhorn areas tonight.


The precipitation is included in the river level forecast.


In the future


For now, the city’s Web site will be the primary source of information for home and business owners in flood-prone areas. Visit www.ci.janesville.wi.us to check it out.


If the river rises to 12.2 feet or so at Afton, city of Janesville staff members could consider reopening the flooding information center in the Municipal Building, Payne said.


“We’ll do the best we can to do what we normally do and address flood issues at the same time,” Payne said.


Some downtown Janesville business owners asked why Alliant Energy had to cut power to some downtown electrical transformers last year. The energy company did that around June 12. The water level was at 12.5 feet at the time.


The transformers are located between the river and businesses on the west side of Main Street, Alliant Energy spokesman Dennis Beggs said. Transformers bring power into homes or businesses. One transformer supplies power to one or two buildings, depending on the business, Beggs said.


Workers raised many of the transformers by 36 inches since last year, Beggs said.


But if water levels get high enough, power must be shut off for safety, he said.


Sandbags available

The Rock County Sheriff’s Office, in cooperation with Rock County Emergency Management and Public Works Highway Division, has free sandbags and sand available at these locations:


-- Town of Rock residents can go to the Rock Town Hall, 5102 S. County D, Afton. More information related to Rock Township flooding is at www.tn.rock.wi.gov.


-- Town of Janesville residents can go to the old barn, near the intersection of Highway 14 and West River Road.


-- Town of Milton and town of Fulton residents can go to the same location as last year—the intersection of Highway 59 and Richardson Spring Road in Newville. To get sandbags, residents must call their respective town hall. Call Milton Town Hall at (608) 868-2465 and Fulton Town Hall at (608) 868-4103.


No matter where they live, residents must bring their own shovels.



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