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Residents continue to plead for help to spare home from flooding

TOWN OF ROXBURY (WKOW) — Fish and Crystal Lakes glisten in the spring sun. Loons and muskrats could be seen swimming on Friday afternoon, cutting the glass-like surface of the water. But neighbors who enjoy the peaceful views and sounds of wildlife are desperate for help as the rising water threatens their shoreline homes.

“This is where we want to be. We don’t want to give it up,” said Jo Anne Robart. She and her husband, Jim, have lived along Fish Lake for two decades.

“We can sit here and watch the eagle and the heron, and hear the loons, and watch the weather,” she said as she started to get choked up.

Jo Anne’s emotions run as high as the water that surrounds her home. A mixture of snow-melt, rain, and what she and neighbors call inaction, is could result in several people losing their homes.

“It’s been stressful. I can’t say it hasn’t been,” Jo Anne said as she started to cry.

She and her neighbor, Debbie Steck, have had too many sleepless nights to count as the water looms close to their back doorsteps.

The Robart’s land use to extend roughly 100 feet from their backdoor to where the water began for Fish Lake. Over the years, water has crept closer and closer to their home and is now roughly two feet away from their home.

The Robarts spend time filling up sandbags halfway full, daily.

“So we can left them still,” Jo Anne said.

A barrier of sandbags is the only thing that keeps the water from flooding their house.

Jim Robart is a Vietnam veteran and is 90% disabled, according to Jo Anne. Yet, it’s the only way to save their home.

A pumps runs daily to keep water out of their house. You can’t walk around their house without stepping over the pipes in which water gushes through.

“It’s just been fighting, fighting, fighting to get this taken care of,” she said as she wiped away tears.

The Robarts, Steck and others who reside along Fish Lake and Crystal Lake have been concerned about rising water levels for years. Meeting after meeting, they are frustrated by the band-aid fixes they say aren’t working.

“You just feel like you want to grab somebody and say, where is your common sense,” Steck said.

The DNR provided the Lake District permits to have two pumps, one on each lake. But both the Robarts and Steck said they don’t function properly and the DNR can tell them when to stop pumping.

“You feel like you’ve been set up to fail,” said Steck.

They believe the pump is not getting enough water out of Fish Lake. They also argue the high water mark, the mark in which they can drain the water to, needs to be lowered so they don’t flood as frequently.

As 27 News first reported on Monday, residents who live along the lakes were upset about a recent, private meeting that included agencies like the state’s emergency management department, the DNR, and other municipalities but did not include any residents.

Impacted stakeholders still don’t know what entirely was discussed at the private meeting.

“This has been [expletive] up from the beginning,” said Steck. “I want some decency from these people. You know, just someone saying, geeze, we know what you’re going through and we’re going to do the best that we can — and actually follow through with it.”

Neighbors are also concerned about the health of the lakes as the water continues and hope the DNR will take action soon to help turn things around.

27 News reached out to the DNR several times, but have not heard back yet.

The next meeting regarding the issue will be on April 17th at 5:30p.m. at the Town of Roxbury Town Hall.

Hunter Sáenz

Reporter, WKOW

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