FOND DU LAC — Fifteen homes and more than 100 apartment units were evacuated in Fond du Lac on Thursday morning due to flooding, according to law enforcement officials.
Water was over the banks and on several streets around Western Avenue and Oak Street due to ice jams around the bridges. Crews also were working on the Forest Avenue Bridge and the Fond du Lac Riverwalk.
"Started this morning," Division Chief Troy Haase said. "We were called in about 20 after 5 this morning. Didn't have a lot of water, but in the last three hours, we went up probably 20 inches of water."
A temporary shelter was set up at the police station, and officers were working to get a more permanent shelter ready.
Volunteers were in the process of opening a place for respite, food and comfort for anyone in the Fond du Lac area impacted by the ice jam and flooding. It was set to open at the FDL County Fairgrounds & Expo Center, 541 Martin Ave.
"Looked out my window and it's like oh, my gosh," Vicki Sumner said. "It's pretty bad."
Sumner is one of the many folks at the FDL County Fairgrounds. Her apartment building was evacuated for safety.
"A lot of ice," she said. "They pile their snow not too far away, too, and that all melts into the river."
"It's horrible," Brad Czoschke said. "Can't explain it. It's turned my life around."
People at the fairgrounds were told they may have to stay there three to four days.
Haase says DPW crews have cut holes in the ice in the last few weeks in preparation for the thaw, but this backup is nothing new to them. However, they need to alleviate it slowly.
"It's got to be done systematically," Haase said. "Just so we're not getting this jam loosened up and pushes into the next one."
"It's horrible. Can't explain it. It's turned my life around." — Brad Czoschke
The high school football field was completely flooded. As was the aquatic center across the street. Residents from around the area were out along the river, taking photos of the high waters and ice.
"I'm ready for winter to be done," Kerry Sheridan of Fond du Lac said. "Like two weeks ago."
Police are warning people not to drive through the water in that area.
Crews are expected to be out clearing the ice all day. Ice shelves were backed up 500 feet.