Wisconsin Guard to assist Hurricane Irma relief in Florida

Posted at 4:39 PM, Sep 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-11 17:28:22-04

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Members of the Wisconsin National Guard will head to Florida to help with the recovery from Hurricane Irma.

Officials said Sunday that more than 2,500 Wisconsin Guard troops will go to Florida.

Capt. Joe Trovato with the Wisconsin National Guard tells TODAY's TMJ4 that this is a historic number of troops to send on a domestic deployment and may be the largest domestic deployment ever for Wisconsin.

"We're expecting you know, securing some infrastructure, providing security for neighborhoods but also definitely involved with rescue in flooded areas using military high water vehicles," he said. 

Gov. Scott Walker says Wisconsin "stands ready to help our friends in Florida" who are bracing for Irma, one of the strongest Atlantic Ocean storms on record.

The Guard's mission will be determined when members arrive in Florida, but may include rescuing people trapped by floodwaters, preventing injuries and protecting property.

Trovato says some of the troops heading to Florida recently helped in Racine and Kenosha counties when heavy rains flooded the area. Trovato says their specialized training makes them well equipped for these situations. 

"Our military skill sets can be used very adequately in some of these situations," said Trovato. "We have military medics, we have engineers who can breach obstacles or clear roadways."

Among Wisconsin Guard units heading to Florida is the entire 32nd "Red Arrow" Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the largest unit in Wisconsin with soldiers across the state.

They will remain in the state "as long as they are needed."

"This is a really tough situation that they're going through right now," said Trovato. "We hope that we can offer some assistance and we can help. The Wisconsin National Guard is definitely ready and willing to take on that mission."