Approximately 15 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers assisted local emergency crews in North Freedom and Baraboo, Wisconsin, today in the aftermath of flooding resulting from heavy rain earlier this week.
The Soldiers, from the Portage, Wisconsin-headquartered 132nd Brigade Support Battalion, arrived early Aug. 30 to fill, stockpile and lay sandbags after the National Guard received a request for assistance from local authorities.
The Wisconsin National Guard concluded its sandbag mission in Madison Aug 29, where as many as 85 National Guard troops were called to state active duty to help municipal crews there fill and emplace nearly 7,400 meters of sandbags. Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard troops have also transported more than 800,000 empty sandbags throughout the state to staging areas to ensure they were in position for local municipalities to use.
Assisting communities in times of emergency is one of the National Guard’s core missions, and while the National Guard troops assisting in local communities hope that communities never find themselves in emergencies in the first place, they relish the opportunity to serve when the call comes.
“Ideally it would be nice if none of us were here, because that would mean there were no incidents,” said 1st Lt. Bryce Bobula, the officer in charge of the National Guard troops in North Freedom. “But it’s definitely nice to be utilized to help people out. This would be a pretty terrible situation if they didn’t send people out, especially in Madison and here to deal with all of this and help as much as we can to reduce the flooding.”
Bobula said the water in North Freedom continued to rise as the National Guard, local volunteers, firefighters and other municipal workers emplaced sandbags this morning.
“We were planning to be out at 9 a.m., then at about 3:30 or 4 a.m. this morning we got the call that they were going to need us out here quicker because the water was coming in significantly quicker than expected,” he said.
The troops were on the ground working by 6 a.m. and concluded their mission in North Freedom by approximately noon before heading to Baraboo to conduct further sandbagging operations there.
Multiple rain events soaked the state over the past ten days causing local lakes and waterways to swell with floodwaters. Gov. Scott Walker signed Executive Order 303 declaring a state of emergency for Dane County last week, which authorizes the adjutant general to call elements of the National Guard to state active duty, as he deems necessary. The governor subsequently signed Executive Order 306, which expanded the state of emergency declaration to cover the entire state after additional heavy rains impacted the state this week.
The state emergency operations center remains at an elevated level, and officials with Wisconsin Emergency Management are urging citizens affected by the flooding to contact 2-1-1 to report damage to residences. For the latest information on the flood response, visit www.ready.wi.gov.
The National Guard fulfills a unique dual-mission as both the primary combat reserve of the Army and Air Force, but also as the first military responder here in the state during times of emergency. Last fall, the Wisconsin National Guard deployed Soldiers and Airmen to Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist with hurricane recovery efforts, and Soldiers responded on multiple occasions to flooding last summer in Monroe County and Burlington, Wisconsin.The Wisconsin National Guard simultaneously remains heavily engaged fulfilling its federal mission as the primary combat reserve of the Army and Air Force. More than 350 Soldiers from the Milwaukee-based 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery deployed to the Middle East this summer and more than 25 Soldiers from the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade’s Military Engagement Team deployed to the Middle East in March. Meanwhile, a team of Soldiers from the 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment deployed to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in March to provide public affairs support there. Wisconsin Army National Guard aviators from Detachment 5, 641st Aviation deployed to Afghanistan earlier this spring, and Soldiers from the 248th Aviation Support Battalion deployed to the Middle East last September. Approximately 85 Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation returned from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East in January, and 35 Soldiers from West Bend’s Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation returned from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan in November.
Also in November, approximately 270 Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing returned to Madison from a deployment to Korea, and more than 100 Airmen from the 128th Air Control Squadron at Volk Field returned from Southwest Asia. Approximately 70 Airmen from the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee are in the midst of deployments worldwide, and other Airmen from the 128th deployed earlier in the fall as well.