By Brandi Makuski
The National Weather Service predicted up to three inches of snow would fall by 9 a.m. Monday morning. Instead, the Stevens Point/Plover Metro Area got 40 degrees and rain.
Only about two-thirds an inch of rain had fallen by 3 p.m., according to ploverweather.com, but it was enough to cover some roadways in Stevens Point with as much as six inches of standing water.
Joel Lemke, water/wastewater director for the city, said some areas on the east side, primarily near Washington Elementary School, were affected the most.
Crews from his department, as well as the Stevens Point Streets Department, Lemke said, were out working to mitigate problems “as much as we can”.
A call to Public Works Director Scott Beduhn was not immediately returned.
The east side already has drainage issues the city has been working to combat by installing a series of swales. But those projects aren’t complete, and drainage issues have only been exacerbated by the unique mixture of partially-frozen ground, mild temps, and rain, Lemke said.
“The water has nowhere to go; it either pools and finds a different place to run, or it pools to a point where it’s a real nuisance,” Lemke said. “In that case, basically, our only option is to use our vac-trucks to haul the water off-site somewhere.”
Lemke said his office has fielded “dozens of calls” throughout the day.
“In some parts of town that aren’t served by as many storm sewers, the water is coming, in some cases, frightfully close to houses and garages, so people are calling us to let us know they’re worried, and we’re doing what we can,” Lemke said.
Considering the time of year, Lemke said it was a priority to remove the standing water from roadways before it freezes, which can present a whole new series of challenges for streets workers and public safety.
“After it freezes, how do you plow that after it’s solid? It’s going to be a challenge if it does, so any water we can take care of now will definitely help,” he said.
City residents concerned about standing water in their neighborhood should contact the water department at (715) 345-5260.