Wisconsin Guard Soldiers among citizens affected by tornadoes
MADISON (PRESS RELEASE)--When wild winds, torrential rain and deadly tornadoes tear through Wisconsin, downing power lines and trees and destroying homes, the Wisconsin National Guard stands ready to respond if called. As it turns out, two Wisconsin Guard Soldiers were among those in need of assistance following Monday's powerful storms.
"I never, in my wildest dreams, thought a storm I was watching over top of me in Monroe would later demolish my home and neighborhood in Eagle," said Sgt. Josh Werner, a trumpet player for the Madison-based 132nd Army Band.
Werner's duty Monday (June 21) night was to entertain the residents of Monroe, instead the concert was cancelled and residents took cover as a tornado, traveling up to 130 mph, ripped through the area. It touched down in Eagle, Wis., destroying Werner's home and at least five other homes and damaging hundreds more.
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, visited Werner and many Eagle residents Wednesday (June 23) as they assessed the damage from the air and ground.
"I had the opportunity to survey the area with Brig. Gen. Dunbar today, and as you would expect, we saw significant destruction," Doyle said. "But what I see here in the village of Eagle - and what I see on the faces of the crews and volunteers already hard at work to rebuild this community - is a determination to help those who have been affected, and return life to normal."
Susan Bolt of Wisconsin Emergency Management recommends the first non-emergency call should be made to the county Emergency Management office to notify them of any damage and see if there is any available assistance. Bolt also said those affected by severe storms or tornadoes can dial "211" from almost any county in Wisconsin to get a listing of available emergency and short-term housing assistance.
Service members are also encouraged to contact Military OneSource, a Defense Department organization that was established as a "one stop" place whenever service members or their families need any type of assistance. Military One Source advisors are available 24/7 at 1-800-342-9647.
Werner said his home has been declared a total loss and many personal possessions were lost, but after contacting Military OneSource, the Werner family discovered there are options available.
"I've contacted [Military OneSource] and they're taking care of a lot of that information for me so I don't have to contact 20 different people," Werner said. "They've also offered counseling sessions, clothing and help purchasing some of my family's immediate needs."
With so many issues his family now faces, Werner said Military OneSource has offered to help his family in whatever way they can.
Another tornado later touched down in the Big Bend/Muskego area just west of Milwaukee, and traveled about six miles. The tornado had recorded wind speeds around 105 mph and caused major tree damage and shingle damage to structures. A National Guard family in Muskego reported damage to their trees and vehicles.
The National Weather Service reported a total of five tornadoes touched down in four Wisconsin counties June 21. Wisconsin averages about 21 tornadoes per year with the majority occurring between May and August. Lori Getter, Wisconsin Emergency Management crisis communications manager, said every Wisconsin county has had a tornado strike in the last 20 years, so it's important to be prepared.
"It's important that every family have an emergency plan knowing where to go and what supplies to have on hand to make the difference in surviving severe weather or any disaster," Getter said.