FLOOD NEWS: North Dakota National Guard Flood Operations End

  • Published
  • By SSGT Amy Wieser Willson
  • North Dakota National Guard
The North Dakota National Guard will end 2010 flood operations today, as the remaining members of a Cass County quick response force team complete their out-processing. Gov. John Hoeven activated the Guard on March 15 to respond to the flood threat, which was especially prevalent in southeastern North Dakota.

"Once again, our National Guard members have done an outstanding job of serving and protecting our communities and our citizens," Hoeven said. "In locations across the state, Guard members were there, ready and prepared to assist with spring flooding emergencies. From rapid response to vehicle recoveries to walking dikes at night, our Guard members played an important role in North Dakota's flood fight and contributed to the success of those efforts."

During the 18 days that Guardsmen served this year, about 58,800 individual hours were dedicated to flood operations by about 750 Airmen and Soldiers. During that time, Guardsmen served in a variety of roles, including sandbagging, manning traffic control points, patrolling dikes, responding to emergencies from strategically positioned quick reaction force teams and providing coordination and operational support for Guardsmen alongside city, county and state leaders.

"The North Dakota National Guard is the first military responder to any type of natural disaster or emergency. We train and prepare side-by-side with state and community organizations and individuals to ensure smooth, seamless operations, and that certainly paid off. Everyone worked well together, and that's a big part of why this ended so successfully," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. "I am extremely proud of our Airmen, our Soldiers, our Families and our employers. Each plays a huge role in the success we all enjoy when the North Dakota National Guard is called to duty, whether it's at home or abroad."

Planning for potential flooding began about four months ago, when meetings and exercises began to help Guardsmen prepare. They also looked at lessons learned from the 2009 flood fight, which saw more than four times as many Guardsmen on duty for about five times as long.

"You learned a lot last year in the 2009 flood. It looks to me like everything in the 2010 timeframe is running very efficiently and very effectively," said Gen. Craig McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, during his March 22 visit to Fargo .

While flooding was more widespread last year, much of it was confined to southeastern North Dakota this year, with the bulk of the Guard's time and resources going to assist Cass County.

"Here's a perfect example of the partnership we have with the Guard," said Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney after a vehicle recovery mission coordinated between his office and the National Guard in late March. "We respond together, we're dealing with all of these events together."

In Fargo, the Red River crested at 36.99 feet on March 21, the seventh highest level ever recorded since tracking began in the late 1800s. The planning and preparation put in to this year's effort by numerous agencies severely reduced the catastrophe such a water level could have caused.

Even after Guardsmen safely ended their mission in Fargo, quick response force teams remained active in areas just outside of town -- Harwood to the north and Kindred to the south. The teams helped build and reinforce sandbag levees and clay dikes when emergency calls came in. They also helped evacuate an elderly woman from her home near Harwood and carried small farm animals to safety.

Throughout the entire flood operation, Guardsmen served in support roles, as well. For 24 hours a day, they worked as liaison officers, provided logistical and communications support, helped with administrative areas, produced media products to tell the story, and managed missions and troop levels.

"The men and women of the North Dakota National Guard really did a spectacular job serving their state and communities during this year's flood operations," said Col. Ron Solberg, who led the Guard's flood 2010 operations in the southeastern part of the state. "Everyone put in long days to get the job done, but their spirits and energy were great. Their hard work and the partnerships we have with our communities and counties really contributed to this mission being as successful as it was."

Although the flood mission officially ends today, about 10 Guardsmen will remain on duty for necessary clean-up and transport missions to ensure all Guard equipment is ready and positioned for any future potential mission. Additionally, the North Dakota National Guard continues to monitor the flood potential across the state since many areas remain saturated, and there is always the possibility of heavy spring rainfall.

"No matter what may happen, the North Dakota National Guard is always ready to respond to any type of disaster," Sprynczynatyk said.

2010 Flood Operations By the Numbers

· 4 months planning, preparing and practicing, including two flood exercises based on lessons learned from the 2009 flood

· 18 total days spent on flood operations in 2010 (March 15 through April 1)

· 4,900 days served by Guardsmen on flood operations, or about 58,800 hours

· 790 personnel, the most on duty during any given day of flood 2010 operations; this included 731 North Dakota National Guard Airmen and Soldiers, 34 personnel helping through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), 16 U.S. Coast Guard members, 6 temporary state employees and 3 aviation personnel from the National Guard Bureau

-64.3 hours flown in support of flood operations
-20 missions over 49.2 hours in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter
-3 missions over 4.8 hours in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter
-1 mission for 2.4 hours in a OH-58 Kiowa helicopter
- 5 missions over 7.9 hours in a C-12 turboprop aircraft

· More than 1.47 billion (yes, with a "B") people in a combined potential audience of videos, stories and photos distributed through DVIDS (Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System) via the North Dakota National Guard

· 187,503 impressions on flood-related postings at www.facebook.com/NDNationalGuard (as of noon Tuesday, March 30)

· 1,324 media outlets requested, received or used flood-related photos, video or stories from the North Dakota National Guard's Public Affairs Offices

· 293,040 impressions (per DMA calculations) on flood-related postings sent by www.twitter.com/NDNationalGuard (as of noon yesterday)

· 12,673 views of flood photos loaded to www.flickr.com/photos/NDGuard (as of noon yesterday)

· 29 flood-related videos in the 2010 Flood Fight Playlist at www.youtube.com/NDNationalGuard, which garnered 1,578 views (as of noon yesterday)

For a by-day, by-county breakdown of the North Dakota National Guard's 2010 flood response, please see our 2010 Flood Fact Sheet posted at http://ndngflood2010.wikispaces.com.