'This is a great community:' Volunteers clean up Milwaukee shoreline as FEMA aid decision looms

MILWAUKEE -- The FEMA tour of southeastern Wisconsin continued Feb. 5 in Milwaukee County. Racine made its case Feb. 4.

January winter storms took a toll up and down the Lake Michigan shore. Volunteers have already begun what looks to be a lengthy clean-up process -- a close-up look at the damage to the South Shore Yacht Club.

Peter Engel

"The future is a little uncertain," said Peter Engel, South Shore Yacht  Club commodore.

With winds whipping outside, state and FEMA officials took pictures and scribbled down notes. Even though South Shore Yacht Club is private, it leases land owned by Milwaukee County.

"A big source of our revenue is the slips, and every single one of them had some kind of damage to it," Engel said.

Winter storm damage at South Shore Yacht Club

Winter storm damage at South Shore Yacht Club

The docks are closed and for good reason -- boards are ripped up, dock boxes torn apart and the break wall ruptured, causing concern for club members.

Bob Karnauskas

"Without that sea wall, these boats and our piers would be subject to 20-foot waves, which would just completely destroy everything," Bob Karnauskas, a club member, said.

But while members wait for the decision on federal funding, dozens of members and volunteers began cleaning up the debris that washed ashore Wednesday morning, Feb. 5 -- one wheelbarrow of plastic, trash and wood at a time.

"They all want to help with the cleanup and putting the back together," said Engel. "This is a great community."

Volunteers clean up South Shore Yacht Club after winter storm damage

South Shore Yacht Club

A community waiting for help financially, but eager to get the clean-up started.

County and state emergency managers must have all of their assessment information to FEMA by Thursday morning, Feb. 6. From there, the federal agency will decide whether to provide funding, how much and when that money will be offered in Milwaukee.