Whitefish Bay — Another month, another night of flooded basements to discuss. Residents in the area of Fairmount Avenue and North Woodruff Street who have cleaned sewer backups from their basements three times since July 15 are worn out and they let the Village Board hear their frustration and fatigue Monday night.
They were among a group of about 50 residents demanding answers and offering their viewpoints on a wide range of flood-related issues at the Village Board meeting.
As a result, village staff will develop an emergency plan for rain events, including an effort to publicize the correct after-hours phone number that residents should use to report rain-related troubles.
The village will also hire an engineering consultant to study recent flood-related issues with the caveat that the person or firm must be good at communicating with officials and residents.
Residents want answers but until the village hires a consultant to start piecing together data and information from the three flooding events, July 15, 22 and most recently, Aug. 20, they will wait.
High on a list of criticisms leveled at village staff Monday was the recent sewer backups on Aug. 20 that impacted more than a dozen homes.
The rainfall was not extreme, perhaps 2 inches, but as the Fairmount/Woodruff intersection filled with water, residents say they could not get help from the village.
Resident Monica Weil told the board she called at 10:20 p.m. that night, reporting the intersection was filling with water. At 12:30 a.m., she again called to report sewer backups. An employee from the Department of Public Works arrived at 1:15 a.m., saying he had received the information only 15 minutes earlier.
While there is little that a DPW employee can do other than make sure the storm sewer grates are clear of debris in that situation, Trustee Jay Miller said he was dismayed with the response.
Village Manager Jim Grassman said the initial calls reported only a flooded intersection and that the reports of sewer backups did not come in until after midnight. Public works employees were called in and were working to clear a tree on a village street during some of the time between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., Police Chief Robert Jacobs said.
Village Engineer Dan Naze believes the sewer backups that night were exacerbated by the removal of a manhole cover in the area, which allowed clear water to enter the sanitary sewer system causing localized backups.
Several residents reported calling for assistance that night and getting a recording.
Resident Beth Rybakowicz asked for the development of an emergency plan that would include onsite employees during rain events, similar to winter storms.
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