Approximately 25 Wisconsin National Guard members reported to state active duty today to assist local communities in assessing the extent of the road damage in parts of northwest Wisconsin that were devastated by major floods last week.
Gov. Scott Walker last week declared a state of emergency for eight Wisconsin counties after 8 to 12 inches of rain fell in a matter of hours across the region July 12.
The state of emergency declaration authorizes Wisconsin's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, to call National Guard forces to state active duty to assist local authorities. Serving on state active duty in times of emergency is at the core of the National Guard's unique dual-mission as the first military responder in the homeland and as the primary combat reserve of the Army and Air Force.
Local authorities requested assistance from the Guard to assess restoring infrastructure to damaged town roads in more rural and isolated areas where local resources are limited. The Guard’s assessment teams are working closely with Wisconsin Emergency Management and DOT to conduct those assessments over the next several days. DOT remains focused on restoring bridges and state and U.S. highways affected by the flooding, while the National Guard’s assessment efforts are focused on local roads.
"Our thoughts are with all those affected by the devastating flooding in northern Wisconsin," Dunbar said. "While local officials have done an outstanding job managing a difficult situation, the National Guard looks forward to assisting with the recovery effort.”
The Guard assessment teams are made up of engineers from the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade's 724th Engineer Battalion, headquartered in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, which includes units with bridge and road construction capabilities, as well as route clearance and survey and design assets. The Wisconsin National Guard remains ready, well-equipped and well-trained to assist local authorities and the people of northwest Wisconsin with additional missions as requested.
Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 238th Aviation, based in West Bend, Wisconsin, also assisted with flood response when they responded July 13 to a medevac mission for five citizens of the Bad River Tribe who needed air transport to Ashland, Wisconsin, for dialysis treatment. Road access to the Bad River Reservation had been cutoff in the aftermath of the storm.
Today Gov. Walker also requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency to conduct a preliminary damage assessment after last week's storms caused more than $28 million in damage to roads and bridges in the area.
For the latest updates on the state's response, visit Ready Wisconsin.