Emergency personnel rescue a woman and a dog from a home west of 312th Avenue and 77th Street in the Town of Wheatland last year (File Photo/The Report).

By Jason Arndt

An unprecedented flood along the Fox River in July was the top news story of 2017.

In mid-July, Southeastern Wisconsin was pounded by torrential rainfall which led to record-flooding along the Fox River in New Munster, where residents reported property damage and loss of personal items.

According to Kenosha County Emergency Management Director Horace Staples, who spoke at a July news conference after the flooding, the levels along the Fox River were unprecedented.

“This is a record flood, more than 17 feet above flood stage and the flood waters have actually reached residences that have never been touched by the Fox River in maybe decades,” Staples said at the July 17 news conference held at the former Silver Lake Village Hall.

On July 12, the National Weather Service reported widespread rainfalls from 2 to 6 inches, with localized amounts of about 8 inches throughout Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties.

Consequently, the Fox River near New Munster set a record flood stage of 17.47 feet, supplanting the previous high of 15.18 feet established in 2008.

With the record flooding, county and state officials shut down dozens of roadways, including Highway 50 near Highway W in the Town of Wheatland for about a week.

Closure of Highway 50 lasted for six days but was reopened on July 18.

In addition to road closures, hundreds of homes were affected by floodwaters, mainly in the Town of Wheatland and former Silver Lake areas.

Along with authorities, nonprofit organizations like The Sharing Center in Trevor and the American Red Cross offered support to residents displaced by the flooding, including an overnight Red Cross shelter at Salem Grade School.

The Sharing Center, meanwhile, started collecting donations to disburse to local families in need.

Businesses also stepped up, including Bella Vita Banquet Hall, where a Western Kenosha County Flood Relief fundraiser was held.

Despite Luisa’s Pizza closing its doors due to the flood, owner Paul De Luisa still offered support to community, including assistance at the Bella Vita flood benefit.

De Luisa has since reopened his establishment off Highway 50.

About 75 other area businesses also contributed raffle items to the benefit.

Although the area did not qualify for a federal disaster declaration, some Kenosha County residents were eligible to receive loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Later, the county was awarded a Community Development Block Grant to help residents pay for some of the costs.


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