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Residents near Root River hope to avoid repeat of 2008 flooding

Residents near Root River hope to avoid repeat of 2008 flooding

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Root River rising

Geese congregate near the Root River as it inches up the bank towards nearby houses. Police issued a flood warning following severe Wednesday morning storms.

RACINE — An area near the Root River was put on alert Wednesday for possible flooding — with memories of the record 2008 flood not far from many residents’ minds.

The Racine Police Department issued a flood warning around 10:40 a.m. Wednesday morning for the area surrounding the Root River near Racine Lutheran High School, 251 Luedtke Ave. The warning area was bordered by Chicago Street, West Sixth Street, Parkview Drive and Domanik Drive.

Area residents registered for the Code Red alert system received phone calls from authorities warning them of the potential for a flood, police Lt. Dave Wohlgemuth said.

While the Root River did not reach flood levels Wednesday, residents should still be cognizant of the water level and alert authorities if they notice rapid rising, police said.

Shades of 2008

Rebecca and Patrick Lawrence, who live on the 400 block of Luedtke Avenue, have lived in their house since 1968. At the time they moved in, the most recent flood had been about 20 years prior. They never imagined having to endure two floods within 10 years of each other — one in 2008 and potentially another one this week.

During the record flooding in 2008, the Lawrences’ basement took in 3½ feet of water. The flooding caused more than $3,000 in damages, and was nothing other than “a mess,” Patrick Lawrence said Wednesday morning.

“(The biggest loss was) letters the kids had written to me when they were little,” Rebecca Lawrence said.

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As soon as the Lawrences got the warning call Wednesday, they started packing up to evacuate should the river flood.

“I already had the flood list made out just in case,” Rebecca Lawrence said. The couple was in the process of packing Rebecca’s doll collection, important papers and spare clothes around noon Wednesday.

Eleazar Lopez, who recently moved to Elhert Street, said he did not know of prior flooding before moving in.

“I was never thinking about flooding,” Lopez said. “(Now) I’m thinking of getting insurance for a flood.”

Another resident of the 400 block of Luedtke Avenue, Margaret Sacotte, moved to the street in 1990. At the time, she was told not to worry about flooding. On Wednesday, she faced potentially more agony.

She said her basement has yet to fully recover from the four feet of water that flowed in during the 2008 flood.

“I’m still not over (the 2008 flood),” Sacotte said Wednesday afternoon. “Mentally, I’m not ready for it to happen again.”

But, in 2008, Sacotte said the people of the neighborhood came together to get through it. One neighbor had a boat he used to get groceries and ferry people around, she recalled.

“I’ll be on pins and needles trekking over and checking the river,” Sacotte said. “I’m praying to God: Please don’t let (a flood) happen.”

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