MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee city officials are ramping up preparations for back-to-back severe weather after relentless rain and wind ripped down trees and blew out power Tuesday night.
The city's fire chief said about 120 out of 266 calls were directly tied to the weather, all while battling a major house fire on Marietta.
"We had certain points where we were very, very drawn down on resources. And we, we worked with our partners to backfill and get everything back the way it should have been, and we eventually got our heads above water," Milwaukee Fire Chief Aaron Lipski said.
Randy Krouse, forest services manager with the city's Department of Public Works, said as of noon on Wednesday, they had 920 calls for service because of tree damage. During a 1:30 p.m. briefing, Krouse added that their team had completed about 5-10 percent of that work.
"It's very slow going because we are prioritizing the trees that are obviously on structures, on cars, blocking public right of ways. So that takes time, to do that type of work," Krouse said.
Public works crews have been working rotating shifts to clean up the mess, but more severe weather on the way may slow those efforts down even more.
"I would say if it's lightning, they're going to have to take a pause obviously, because they're going to loft in an aerial lift, so that'll be a danger to them," Krouse said.
Lipski said they are dialing up preparations, working more closely with We Energies, area fire departments, the county's Office of Emergency Management which set up an emergency operations center, and reconfiguring how staff is deployed.
Task forces will focus on downed trees and electrical issues that do not pose a hazard to life or property.
"We're expecting that will draw down the demands on the rest of the resources throughout the county ergo, making them available for other emergencies," Chief Lipski said.