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Ozaukee, Washington Counties prepare for record floods

Posted: 10:18 PM, Aug 28, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-29 03:18:33Z

Residents around Ozaukee County are preparing for record high levels in the Milwaukee River.

The river is already over the flood stage of eleven feet and is expected to hit 14.5 feet by Wednesday afternoon; half a foot over the record high of 14. 

"I've lived here for 20 years, my whole life, and I've never seen it get this high," Joe Knuth of Thiensville said. "I've seen it flood before but never seen it get to the point where the water has gotten up to the benches or anywhere past it. The dam as well, I've never seen it flat like this before."

The river has already crept up to the parking lots and covered many parks in Thiensville, Cedarburg and Grafton. Gov. Scott Walker even made a stop in Thiensville to check out the river himself. He took the time to remind folks how powerful the river can be and to stay off the water. 

But this latest storm has already taken a toll on some areas in Ozaukee County before the floods have even started. 

"I look out front and this is what you see," Michel Ries of Grafton said. "Literally the entire tree came down and thank goodness for that red tree there because otherwise, I'd be looking at this beautiful green tree in my living room right now."

A tree on Ries' sidewalk was partially uprooted. If not for another tree in his yard, it would have crashed through his living room, where he and his children were watching television during the storms. 

"We could have been dead in a matter of seconds," Lena Ries said. "I was pretty freaked out. Probably the weirdest thing to happen to us."

While the Ries family doesn't face a flood risk, the amount of rain the area has seen this week has oversaturated the ground, making it easier for large trees to come down. 

"I think this never would have happened had we not had so much rain the last couple of days," Ries said. "It's like pulling a weed right? So much easier when the ground is saturated. Same thing with the roots."

Scenes like this combined with record floods has everyone in the area concerned. 

"Definitely going to be keeping an eye on it," Caroline Aiello of Cedarburg said. "We live across from the creek a little ways up. We'll definitely be watching it. It makes me anxious."

"When it comes on so quickly and don't have time to prepare for this, bad things can happen," Knuth said. "Accidents can happen when the water rises up like this."

Flash flood warnings remain in place for Ozaukee and Washington Counties until 6:45 a.m. Wednesday.