Guard’s Quick Response Force Protects Kindred Home

  • Published
  • By Capt Penny Ripperger
  • 119th Wing Public Affairs
A National Guard quick response force team responded in Kindred this afternoon to protect a home from rising water of the nearby Sheyenne River.

The team of Airmen and Soldiers from the North Dakota National Guard arrived at the farmstead of Harlan Smeby shortly after getting the call for help.

"The Sheriff's Department came out and they were looking at my dike and figured I better do something because the water is just about to go over," Smeby said.

He described that the water was this close to the house during the 2009 flood, but never got any higher. The preparations that the QRF team made today are in anticipation of the estimated two more feet of water that the Sheyenne River may rise due to the release of water from the Baldhill Dam near Valley City, N.D.

"The Guard is doing a really good job, in fact, they were here so fast that they surprised me," Smeby said.

This is the second response for this quick-acting QRF team, which was previously stationed at the Hickson Community Center, east of Kindred.

"We were actually about 10 minutes away from being let go last night and then they decided to keep us on and moved us to Kindred," said Master Sgt. Brian Laney, 119th Wing.

Laney, a military veteran and now veteran of fighting floods with the North Dakota Guard has volunteered for flood duty three years in a row.

"I told them I would go if they were looking for volunteers," Laney added, who is also getting over a nasty case of bronchitis. "If I stop working, I start coughing -- so I don't stop," he said.

The QRF team immediately began unloading semitrailers filled with sandbags, using a forklift and a great deal of hard work.

"Basically we're throwing up a sandbag wall to save this house," explained Airman 1st Class Jake Dipple, of the 119th Wing, as he tossed 20-pound sandbags down a line to build the three-foot dike needed to save the house.

"On Tuesday, we responded to a farm that was getting engulfed with water, but the road washed out so the water started going down," Dipple added.

This is Dibble's first year working flood duty with the National Guard and it has been an experience that he will always remember.

"Everyone in Hickson was so nice to us, and Olivet Lutheran Church has been keeping us fed. I have really enjoyed this experience a lot. It's a great feeling to get out and help the community a little bit," Dipple said.

It will, no doubt, be a memorable day for Harold Smeby, as well. As the retired Korean War Veteran looks on, he hopes that the sandbags will ultimately only be a precaution and the water won't get as high as he dreads. If it does, he's now ready.