Flooding now a concern with higher temps and rain

DPW turns its attention to clearing catch basins, asks public’s help

It’s safe to say that most people — with the possible exception of snowmobilers and ice fishing enthusiasts — have been longing for an end to the winter weather and arrival of spring.

One never knows whether Mother Nature is making the transition to the new season or just giving us a tease, but warmer temperatures and even rain, including possible thunderstorms Thursday, are in the forecast.

But as welcome as the change might be, it brings with it problems of its own as the heavy amount of snow the city has accumulated over the past few months goes into a quick thaw.

“We are concerned about that,” Shawano Public Works Director Scott Kroening said.

The DPW has crews out clearing snow from catch basins, but the department is also asking for the public’s help in case any of those basins get missed.

“We’re asking residents, if they know of a catch basin next to their property, if they could shovel it out,” Kroening said.

“We have about three two-man crews going around uncovering catch basins, because when the snow melts it’s just going to create a mess on the streets,” he said.

Kroening said crews will continue doing that over the next few days.

“I’d ask that people be patient,” he said. “We will be trying to get there.”

The amount of snow the city has had this winter sometimes make catch basins hard to find.

“We even have trouble finding some of those catch basins, and we know where they are,” Kroening said.

Kroening encouraged residents to give the DPW a call if they see a problem.

“We’ve probably already fielded about 20 to 30 calls on storm sewer drain issues,” he said, with temperatures creeping up and snow and ice beginning to melt over the past few days.

“If they want to call us, we’ll get to it as soon as we can,” Kroening said.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for portions of central and northeast Wisconsin, including Shawano County, through Friday morning, with more than an inch of rain expected by Thursday evening.

The NWS warns that temperatures in the 40s and 50s while the ground is still frozen means melting snow will have no place to go but onto the streets and roadways and even into basements.

The NWS says basement flooding and ice dams on roofs, where the added weight of the rain-soaked snow could cause a collapse, particularly for outbuildings and barns, is a possibility.

The city has already pulled snow off of streets in most need of being cleared, including narrow streets where the snow banks were creating parking problems.

“We’ve pulled snow on most every street that needed it. Every street could use it, but the ones that we normally pull have been pulled and we still have snow piled up in parking lots,” Kroening said.

But the warmer temperatures have forced the DPW to shift gears.

“With this weather we’ve kind of had to change our strategy and start doing catch basins,” Kroening said.

The city has pretty much filled its main location for snow storage, which is along Elizabeth Street across from the athletic field at Memorial Park.

“We’re not trying to put much snow on there anymore,” Kroening said.

For the past few weeks, the DPW has been dumping snow on city-owned property on Woodland Drive across from the cemetery behind the former Pick ‘n Save.

That site was proposed for a dog park several years ago, before it was rejected by the Common Council.

“We’ve got a ton of snow in there,” Kroening said.

Kroening said both storage sites have sufficient drainage that melting snow should not create a problem.