The Kewaunee City Council was scheduled to get a briefing Monday night (Jan. 13) on the high water and flooding issues that have plagued the Great Lakes in recent months.
Krystle Walker, a public information officer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the challenges facing landowners along Lake Michigan and its tributaries are not going to improve soon.
The Corps recently reported that water levels on each of the Great Lakes started 2020 higher than they started 2019, a year where many record high water levels were set across the lakes. People impacted by the high water levels of 2019 are being urged to prepare for similar levels again in 2020.
Available services range from immediate emergency assistance to longer-term solutions, Walker said. Under Public Law 84-99, federal assistance is meant to supplement local resources with technical support.
For most of the past year, five Wisconsin counties have been receiving technical assistance from the Corps. Kewaunee is one of them, along with Brown, Marinette, Oconto and Portage, she said.
“We’re in those communities, answering questions, seeing what we can do for them,” Walker said.
The Corps of Engineers cannot provide direct help to individual homeowners or businesses; that’s administered by local and state agencies.
“In order for us to do that, all of those local jurisdictions have to confirm that they’ve exhausted all of their resources – they’re aware of the problem, they’ve spent what they have, and they still need additional support. That is when they’re able to request support from us,” Walker said. Any request for federal help must come from the state government.
Kewaunee closed its public boat launch last July because of flooding issues in the parking lots and boat landing. The most recent six-month forecast of Great Lakes water levels shows water levels continuing to be well above average over this period, and Lake Michigan-Huron is expected to reach record highs.