'Sump pump couldn't keep up:' Flooding leads to frustration for Colgate homeowners

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Residents in Washington County watched as the heavy rains flooded their streets and yards throughout the day Tuesday, Feb. 20. The high water -- with a layer of ice on top -- created a nightmare for one homeowner in Colgate.

Wisconsin winters are known to be unpredictable, but flooding in February is something Kelly Engelke didn't think was possible.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Engelke. "That's about 40 feet deep back there."

Melting snow combined with heavy rain Tuesday filled up the retention ponds in Engelke's front and backyards. Eventually, it spread to Engelke's swing set, patio and then her house.

"It ended up breaking the sump pump. The sump pump couldn't keep up, and when it didn't work, all of the water from the drain tile came in," said Engelke.

Next door, Terry Fox said he feels for his neighbor -- especially because he says there's a system in place that's supposed to prevent the exact issue.

"It's tough to see that because it's like you're powerless against the water," said Fox.

Fox said the drainage areas usually absorb any excess water, but with the ground rock hard, there was no place for it to go.

"It does its job if it's not frozen, but this time Mother Nature had other ideas," Fox said.

Kelly Engelke

On Wednesday, Engelke was stuck cleaning up an inch of standing water in her basement. The carpet and baseboards will have to be replaced and the family will be living at grandma and grandpa's until the septic tank levels go down.

"I'm concerned about mold," said Engelke. "Just stuff being dry is my main concern. Things can be replaced, but I don't want it to be unhealthy to be here. It's a huge headache."

There is actually a third retention pond in Engelke's cul-de-sac that did not fill up with water Tuesday. In light of the flooding, residents are now urging village leaders take another look at the drainage decision so that this doesn't happen again.