Brookfield deals with unpredictable storm season

July 1, 2014

Southeastern Wisconsin continues to slough through storm season, with pockets of inclement weather spattering the Milwaukee area, spurring experts to caution residents.

City of Brookfield Director of Public Works Tom Grisa notes that Wisconsin weather has reached a level of unpredictability that makes it impossible for him to compare this season to others.

"I don't know if I can say how it compares with the usual because I'm not certain what the usual is any more," Grisa said. "We've had a couple of different kinds of problems that have hit us this year."

The problems that Grisa refers to are caused by two different types of weather that Brookfield has encountered to a sizable extent thus far.

"We've had a few very intense rain events and we've also had it be raining on and off very often. That brings different kinds of problems. You might have intersection flooding or localized problems," Grisa said. "On the other hand, all the little bits of rain causes the Fox River to rise."

Grisa noted that River Road has been, and remains, closed, due to the Fox River's levels.

"It hasn't been really bad city-wide. It's been spotty. Certainly there have been localized problems with homes flooding," Grisa said.

One particular danger of severe storms is the potential for damage from falling trees and branches.

First Choice Tree Care Owner Ken Ottman's company specializes in helping homeowners to make sure that trees in their yards and around their homes are as healthy and safe as possible.

"Our stronger message is that prevention (of danger) is a better cure than to lose your tree," Ottman said. "We personally would rather you care for it than have to haul it to the dump."

First Choice Tree Care was founded in Stevens Point and has since expanded with satellites in Mequon and Pewaukee.

"We service the whole metro-Milwaukee area," Ottman said. "This is the worst time of the year. From last month and through the next six weeks."

Ottman says that Grisa's assessment of Brookfield's season so far also applies to the rest of the Milwaukee area.

"It's been pretty modest. There's been bad damage in Dane County and in the southwest part of the state, but not so much in Milwaukee or Brookfield or Waukesha," Ottman said. "It really hasn't been that bad for the last few years. Are we due? I don't know."

First Choice Tree Care recommends three primary steps in dealing with trees to prevent damage to vehicles, homes, power lines, and so forth.

· Make sure the foundation of the tree is sound. That is to say, make sure the root system is intact and not decayed.

· Prune the tree so as to develop a sound branch structure. This allows the tree to be less of a windsail, allowing strong winds to flow through the branches better.

· Where there are weak branches, make a decision on removing or retaining the branches. If retaining the branch is chosen, bolt the tree together. There are multiple methods by which to achieve this.

Fallen limbs and downed trees can cause particular danger around power lines. Residents are advised to avoid attempting to remove fallen limbs that are in contact with any wires. Power companies can be called to remove limbs as well as to pre-emptively address the issue in cutting down limbs that have grown too close to power lines.

In preventing basement flooding, Grisa also offered tips and tricks for Brookfield homeowners.

"Water flows downhill. If water is flowing toward your home, it's because the grade is pitched toward your home," Grisa said. "Sometimes that's not difficult to correct. Get some fill material and put it around the foundation of your home and you keep the water away from your home."

Grisa also recommended that residents double-check their sump pumps to make sure that they are working.

This particular season remains unpredictable, as Grisa noted that the extreme winter experienced by Wisconsin this year may offset the rest of 2014.

"This year has been particularly different because winter didn't end until so late," Grisa said. "Some people still say we're not even in summer yet."

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