After fielding numerous complaints last year from Brookfield residents about the their response to flooding incidents last summer, village officials last week unveiled what amounts to a rapid-response plan to avoid issues that plagued last July’s relief effort.
“We wanted residents to know that we know the hot spots in town that are going to be an issue when that much rain comes down,” said Village Manager Riccardo Ginex. “We’re going to make sure those areas are going to have an immediate response.”
When the village receives a flood warning for Salt Creek and the river continues to rise, Public Works employees will deliver sand and sandbags to seven locations in Brookfield. While the village doesn’t have the manpower to fill and place sandbags, it will provide the materials to residents.
The areas that will receive the rapid response include:
Southview and Grove
Southview and Arden
Southview and Custer
Forest Avenue from Washington to Grant
Vernon and Washington
Prairie and Washington
30th and Prairie
In addition, the village spent about $10,000 to purchase a high-volume pump that can be transported to flooded areas and remove water from the streets in a much more effective way than in the past.
During the July 2010 flooding, the village sent a pump to the 3500 block of Forest Avenue, but it could not keep up with the volume of water backing into the street. The new pump can eject water “over the berm into Salt Creek at a rate that’s much more substantial,” Ginex said.
Residents along Forest Avenue and the Washington/Prairie intersection were particularly hard hit, with water deluging basements. In the flood’s wake, scores of residents applied for aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help them recover from the flood. The federal government gave Brookfield residents more than $750,000 in grants to help them recoup their losses.
Al Kitzer, Brookfield’s superintendent of public works, said Monday that his department has purchased 11,000 sandbags, which should avoid the shortage his department ran into last July as flood waters rose during the afternoon.
The village ran out of its supply of 6,000 sandbags during the flood.
“We were at a standstill for a couple of hours,” Kitzer said. Brookfield ended up running through some 8,000 sandbags in all. The village since 2008 has had an arrangement with LaGrange Materials, a construction supply company, where it can get as much sand as it needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We took the total amount of bags we used for an exceptionally heavy flood and surplussed it by 30 percent,” Kitzer said. “We’ll watch the creek levels. When it gets to the action level and it’s rising, we’ll start delivering stuff to site before it gets to flood stage. It’s a bit touch and go, but we want to be out in front of it.”
Residents who do not live in the “hot spot” areas can still contact the Public Works Department to request that sand and bags be delivered to their locations.
The new response plan does not mean Brookfield residents won’t experience flooding in the future. With more runoff going into the creek upstream and more frequent heavy rains in recent years, more sandbags and a new pump are no guarantee.
“Is it a total solution?” Kitzer asked. “Absolutely not.”