USA — Guard Responds to Floods in Wisconsin, Minnesota

MADISON, Wis., Sept. 24, 2010 — Nation­al Guard troops are assist­ing local author­i­ties in Wis­con­sin and Min­neso­ta today after heavy rains caused flood­ing in low-lying areas of both states.

Army Staff Sgt. Michael Voelk­er, from an Army Nation­al Guard field main­te­nance shop in Eau Claire, Wis., attach­es a wrist­band on a cit­i­zen enter­ing a poten­tial haz­ardous flood area in Arca­dia, Wis., Sept. 23, 2010. Gov. Jim Doyle declared a state of emer­gency for Trem­pealeau Coun­ty after severe storms dropped sev­er­al inch­es of rain, caus­ing area flood­ing. Wis­con­sin Nation­al Guard per­son­nel and equip­ment were request­ed to assist with check­point secu­ri­ty and pos­si­ble escorts for fam­i­lies affect­ed by the flood­ing.
U.S. Air Force pho­to by Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue
Click to enlarge

In Wis­con­sin, the Guard deployed vehi­cles and about 12 per­son­nel to Trem­pealeau Coun­ty yes­ter­day.

Wis­con­sin Gov. Jim Doyle declared a state of emer­gency for the coun­ty fol­low­ing strong storms that drenched the area with six inch­es of rain. The flood­ing prompt­ed the evac­u­a­tion of down­town Arca­dia, which was under as much as three feet of water ear­li­er today, and also washed out roads and bridges, downed pow­er lines and dam­aged infra­struc­ture in Trem­pealeau Coun­ty.

Heavy rains are expect­ed to con­tin­ue through­out the day and pos­si­bly overnight. At noon yes­ter­day, the Trem­pealeau Riv­er was near­ly six inch­es past flood stage and it is expect­ed to con­tin­ue ris­ing for the next 24 to 48 hours. Water lev­els have sub­sided as much as nine inch­es in areas where the rain has dimin­ished.

Doyle direct­ed state agen­cies to assist local author­i­ties in recov­er­ing from this nat­ur­al dis­as­ter.

“State Emer­gency Man­age­ment and [Depart­ment of Nat­ur­al Resources] offi­cials are already on the ground, work­ing with the Nation­al Guard to assist in recov­ery efforts,” Doyle said. “The state will con­tin­ue to do every­thing we can to help the peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties affect­ed by last night’s storms make a quick recov­ery.”

Air Force Brig. Gen. Don Dun­bar, Wisconsin’s adju­tant gen­er­al, said his troops are ready to assist state and local author­i­ties as long as need­ed.

“This is the core of our mis­sion — tak­ing care of Wis­con­sin cit­i­zens in times of need,” Dun­bar said. “Our Guards­men are at the ready.”

The Wis­con­sin Nation­al Guard sent two 5-ton trucks, a light medi­um tac­ti­cal vehi­cle, a Humvee and a heavy equip­ment wreck­er along with per­son­nel, four cas­es of pack­aged meals and 120 gal­lons of potable water to Arca­dia.

Guard mem­bers will help local law enforce­ment oper­ate three traf­fic check­points and escort fam­i­lies to their homes if need­ed. Most of the sol­diers were sent from an Army Nation­al Guard field main­te­nance shop in Eau Claire, Wis.

Addi­tion­al Guard mem­bers are prepar­ing to relieve those already on site, should assis­tance oper­a­tions con­tin­ue into the evening, offi­cials said.

The Eau Claire chap­ter of the Amer­i­can Red Cross has estab­lished an emer­gency shel­ter at the Nation­al Guard armory in Arca­dia, with about 10 vol­un­teers to care for up to 40 evac­uees. Ear­li­er today, 50 peo­ple were being shel­tered at a church in Arca­dia.

The state emer­gency oper­a­tions cen­ter in Madi­son has been acti­vat­ed, and the Wis­con­sin Nation­al Guard’s joint oper­a­tions cen­ter is mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion and coor­di­nat­ing assis­tance with the inci­dent com­man­der. The joint staff liai­son team arrived on the scene just before noon.

In Min­neso­ta, four Army Guard per­son­nel have respond­ed to flood­ing in Owa­ton­na. They will assist Home­land Security’s emer­gency man­age­ment offi­cials to estab­lish the Owa­ton­na tac­ti­cal armory com­mand cen­ter and a 24-hour oper­a­tion, includ­ing a shel­ter and stag­ing area for vol­un­teers.

The Michi­gan Nation­al Guard has pro­vid­ed four Army Guards­men to help out in Owa­ton­na and Steele, Minn., Guard offi­cials said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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