Guard Responds to Floods in Wisconsin, Minnesota
By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue
Wisconsin National Guard
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 photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
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.