DPW crews urge you to clear sewer drains to avoid flooding

BROWN DEER (WITI) -- Temperatures in the mid-50s on Monday, March 10th had many rejoicing after this long, harsh and bitterly cold winter! In 2014, Milwaukee has seen more sub-zero days than days with above normal temperatures -- so to say Monday was a treat may be an understatement! However, the warmth brings with it at least one concern: the potential for flooding due to the snow melt and saturated ground.

When the thaw happens fast, all of the snow and ice on the ground needs somewhere to go.

"Normally, you got like -- a slow thaw, but you get this 50 degree temperature and the snow's gonna melt pretty quick, and so the water tends to build up pretty fast," Anthony Stewart with Milwaukee's Department of Public Works said.

Stewart and other DPW crews spent much of Monday responding to "surface ponding."

"What they're doing is they're cleaning the lines so the water can drain and again, like said before, to get some of the water off of the roads," Stewart said.

Lauren Majkowski and Brennan Krieman were excited to get out on their bicycles on this warm, Monday afternoon -- but after their ride, Majkowski only needed one word to describe the day.

"Wet, wet wet," Majkowski said.

"There's a few puddles out there. Just got to make sure there's nothing covering the potholes so you miss those," Krieman said.

Lake Michigan's ice levels hit all-time highs last week. The winds and warmer temperatures could help melt some of that ice. Some experts believe the eventual thaw will mean higher river levels at some point this spring -- which could threaten the basements of homes near rivers and streams.

As of Monday though, much of the Milwaukee River remained frozen.

"Right now, it seems more of a street issue.  We haven't heard anything about basement issues at this time," Stewart said.

DPW crews say you can do a lot to prevent street flooding. If you see leaves or trash clogging up a sewer drain, it's easier for you to clear it away than to wait until it becomes a big enough problem for the city to send a crew.