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Veteran-led organization aids flooded communities

Veteran-led organization aids flooded communities

VIROQUA, Wis. (WKBT) - After heavy rains caused major flooding in local areas last month, many people are still suffering from the aftermath.   

But a local team made up of special members, is working to fix some of the damage.

Team Rubicon is a non-profit, disaster relief organization. Some of its members are now working to help with flood clean-up in Viroqua.

Seventy five percent of the team is made up of military veterans while the rest are civilians and first responders.

On Sunday, operation Bad Axe, Team Rubicon's relief efforts in Vernon County, was underway for the first time in Wisconsin.

"A lot of the times communities don't have the resources to address the needs of all the residents in a timely fashion," said Andrew Hanna, incident commander of operation Bad Axe.

Which is why it's boots on the ground for the military veterans. But this time, for a different purpose.

"Most of what we do is this, is disaster relief, something bad happens somewhere in the country, or internationally, we'll put together a team of people with skills and we'll go out there and provide whatever aid we can," said Hanna.

Team Rubicon has been operating for six years and its members say there are a few reasons why the work they do is necessary.

"When we get out of the military, a lot of us feel a certain lacking because you don't have that same sense of purpose and that same opportunity to serve others maybe like you had when you were in the service," said Hanna.

 And to continue on with that same mission, Team Rubicon is filling a void, while also making a difference for many who have been affected by recent flooding.

"Having the military dynamic along with civilians working together so we can help the community really makes an impact for me to personally so I can feel engaged with my community and feel engaged with people that were in the military that have the same background as I do," said Jeunai Boche, a Team Rubicon member.

With their skills and dedication to serving a purpose that is much bigger than they are, Team Rubicon in Viroqua is on duty to complete a mission, right here, in their backyard.

"For all these people that we make contact with, for a lot of them it's the worst day in their lives, you know they're looking at their house they've vested 20 years, 30 years into their home and now you know there is a tree on top of it or their basement if full of mud, and they don't know how to deal with the situation, we can't get them back to normal, but we can at least help remove a lot of that initial shock you know at least get them to a place where maybe they can get back into their home and start to live a normal life again," said Hanna.

Team Rubicon was founded in 2010 after the earthquake in Haiti left nearly one million Hatians homeless.

In the last five years, the organization has gone from 3,000 volunteers to 40, 000. It has also partnered with organizations like Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity to receive the extra support they need to help the community.


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