Rock River waters on the rise

Janesville residents living and working along the Rock River are paying close attention to the forecast hoping Mother Nature keeps the river water out of their homes.

Jackie Wood, co-owner of the Olde Towne Mall in downtown Janesville, is vigilant about checking her basement for water.

“This is where we would notice the water coming in,” she said.

Wood said the flood of 2008 is still fresh in her mind.     

“Every day I look and it’s still dry, so I’m hopeful we won’t have anything,” Wood said.

City Operations Director John Whitcomb said though the city isn’t anticipating any problems as severe as the spring of 2008 based on the current forecast, city workers laid 12,000 sandbags along the river walk starting at Firehouse Park as a precaution.  

Friday morning, Rock River levels had reached about 10.5 feet, which is about 2 feet higher than normal for this time of year.

“It’s come up quite a bit, a couple of feet, actually,” Whitcomb said. “It’s been a pretty rapid rise. It seems to have leveled off this last 24-36 hours.”

Whitcomb said the city has closed some bike paths in some parts of the city in anticipation of high water.

The city said it isn’t providing sandbags for businesses or homeowners because conditions aren’t predicted to get as severe as in the past.

“Some of them have already experienced some flooding in their lower areas and are pumping and hopefully it won’t get any more severe than it is now,” Whitcomb said.

VIDEO: Rock River waters rise

The missing walls and vacant spaces are signs the mall hasn’t fully recovered from the flood five years ago.

“The lower level was full of tenants,” she said. “It’s still empty so it’s devastating.”

Janesville’s operations director encouraged residents to visit the city website to get updates on closures and water levels.