Wisconsin National Guard to help Kentucky ice storm recovery

  • Published
  • By Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs
Two Airmen from the 115th Civil Engineer Squadron joined about 50 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers en route to Kentucky to assist civil authorities after the Jan. 26 ice storm blamed for 29 deaths, and resulting in a federal disaster declaration for much of the state. 

Master Sgt. Richard Hoffman and Airman 1st Class Alexander Berrueta, 115 CES, left Truax Field Feb. 5 around 4 p.m. with the convoy headed to Kentucky. As part of Wisconsin's contingent, they will join a task force that also includes Guard members and equipment from Kentucky, Florida, Indiana, West Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee. Guard members are providing transportation, communication, power generation and other aid to help residents recover from the storm that left more than 410,000 customers without power and 230,000 residents without access to clean water. 

The Wisconsin task force includes combat engineers; heavy equipment and motor vehicle operators; and maintenance, supply and operations personnel. Its primary mission will be debris clearance, mostly in western Kentucky. The Soldiers and Airmen come from the 106th Engineer Detachment, Tomah; the 229th Engineer Company, Platteville and Prairie du Chien; the 273rd Engineer Company, Medford; the 950th Engineer Company, Superior and Spooner; Company A, 724th Engineer Battalion, Hayward; and the 115th Fighter Wing, Madison.

This domestic mission comes as Wisconsin prepares to mobilize and deploy more than 3,000 other soldiers to Iraq. Response to domestic emergencies is a critical part of the National Guard role, which also includes national defense, homeland defense and homeland security. In 2008 alone, the Wisconsin National Guard assisted in the response to floods and winter storms in Wisconsin; Hurricanes Ike and Gustav on the Gulf Coast; the November commissioning of USS Freedom in Milwaukee; and both the Republican and Democratic national conventions. The Wisconsin National Guard also supported Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in 2005.

The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management requested assistance from Wisconsin Emergency Management through the National Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), a national interstate mutual aid agreement that enables states to share resources during disasters. States that request resources pay the expenses incurred by responding states.