National Guard soldiers conclude mission in Burlington after severe flooding

BURLINGTON -- Wisconsin National Guard soldiers and airmen serving on state active duty as a result of severe flooding in SE Wisconsin concluded their mission in Burlington Saturday, July 15th.

The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch until 1:00 a.m. Sunday, July 16th, and with storms in the forecast, there are concerns about the potential for more flooding -- especially in Racine and Kenosha Counties, where residents are still cleaning up from last week's severe flooding.

Severe T-Storm Watch for all of SE WI until 1:00 a.m. Sunday

Officials with the Wisconsin Emergency Operations Center said Saturday the storms should hit the flooded areas around midnight, and it's anticipated they'll bring a quarter-inch to a half-inch of rain. They noted that the National Weather Service doesn't anticipate the storms will lead to an increase in river levels.

We should dry out on Sunday and Monday, with the next system moving in on Tuesday.

CLICK HERE for the latest forecast information via FOX6Now.com.

According to a news release, while the local response effort will continue in the coming days and weeks, the National Guard troops were released from state active duty Saturday as floodwaters began receding.

There will be no curfew in effect on Saturday night in Burlington. A 10:00 p.m. curfew was in effect for three days as a result of this flooding.

The National Guard manned traffic control checkpoints on roadways and bridges affected by high water, but as of Saturday, most of the affected roadways had reopened.

The soldiers also conducted health and welfare checks, knocking on approximately 370 doors in the city over the course of their time there.

In one case, soldiers worked with neighbors to evacuate a woman trapped in her home by floodwaters. The soldiers and neighbors used a boat to get her from her home and finally into a Wisconsin National Guard vehicle capable of fording through high water back to safety.

Approximately 85 National Guard soldiers were on duty in Burlington after torrential rains soaked the region on July 11th and 12th, causing the Fox River to rise above major flood stage. The Fox River at Burlington crested at a record 16.1 feet Thursday morning, July 13th.

Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency, which authorized Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, to activate the National Guard to assist local response efforts.

The "National Guard Reaction Force," made up of soldiers from the Madison, Wisconsin-based 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry, arrived in Burlington early July 13th to assist as needed. Airmen from the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee also supported the effort.

PHOTO GALLERY

Volunteers continue to assist with the cleanup. About 60 members of the LifeBridge Church have been out helping out, and one of the volunteers said he fell victim to the flooding himself.

Jeff Taff

Jeff Taff said Saturday it had been a rough few days for him and his neighbors. The heavy rain left his streets flooded, and his home underwater.

"Just where I'm standing here, water came up to about my belly-button level. All of this below me, covered," Taff said.

Taff got some help dealing with all the water from fellow church members.

Jeff Taff

"We made a map of this area and we had different stages of clean out," Jon Thorngate, administrative pastor with LifeBridge Church said.

Flooding in Burlington

Church members volunteered their time to help those hit hardest by the flooding.

"This is a part of our faith, to be able to come out here. That's what we believe we're supposed to do," Thorngate said.

Volunteers have been busy going door-to-door, gutting homes, filling up dumpsters and providing moral support. Even Taff volunteered his time.

Flooding in Burlington

"It's humbling because you think you've got it bad and you look at someone further down and it's a lot worse," Taff said.

Volunteers at Love, Inc. food pantry have been busy handing out food and supplies to victims in need.

"We've been helping out people constantly, all day long," Ben Mitchell with Love, Inc. said. "It's been really terrific to see how the community came together."

"It interesting in times of tragedy, the good, positive human spirit, we kind of rally behind that," Taff said.

CLICK HERE to access resources for flood victims, and to learn more about how to help those in need.