FLOOD NEWS: Guardsmen Volunteer to Help a Deployed Soldier's Family
By SSGT Amy Wieser Willson, North Dakota National Guard
/ Published March 17, 2010
Lisbon, N.D. -- "I've been deployed before. I know what it's like to worry about back home."
With those words, Sgt. 1st Class Larry Jacobson, of Fargo, and his crew of seven set to work. They've been here in Lisbon since yesterday to provide five traffic control points to facilitate the steady truck movement needed to build a dike against the quickly rising Sheyenne River.
The mission brought them to town, their concern for the family of a fellow Soldier they had never met brought them to Poplar Lane.
There, Konny Zins and her three rambunctious boys -- Trevor, 14, Nicholas, 12, and Brady, 10 -- are watching the river rise quickly toward their house. It's something they dealt with just last year, when their entire basement flooded with 12 inches of water. Despite new sump pumps, a similar challenge seems inevitable this year.
"When I was cleaning my room yesterday, the walls were a little wet," Trevor said.
This year is different, though -- and more challenging. Konny's husband, Sgt. Darin Zins, deployed to Kosovo last fall and can do little more than empathize during his Skype calls with his family. He serves with the 231st Maneuver Task Force, part of the NATO peacekeeping forces in Kosovo Force 12. He doesn't expect to be home until late July.
"He couldn't do it, so we're gonna do it for him," Jacobson said of the help needed at the Zins' house. "When Guard members are gone and their families need help, we help them out."
So, after their shift running traffic control points, Jacobson's crew headed over to the Zins' house to move the furniture out of the basement and then start sandbagging.
"It's kind of nice to have the support of the Guard ... helping out," Konny said.
She had called Rod Olin with the Guard's Family Assistance Center in Jamestown yesterday saying she could use some help. Olin said he'd figure something out, and then started making calls.
"I just called yesterday," Konny said, "and they were ready to move me yesterday, but I wasn't ready because I wasn't all the way packed yet.
So, at 3 p.m. today, the Guardsmen started their volunteer mission to help one of their "brothers" -- one they have never met but with whom they serve the same state and nation.
They hauled out the Zins' belongings and built a sandbag dike a couple of feet high with the promise that they would be back to add more as the water rises.
"It's really nice to see all the support and all the help that the Guard is able to give me," Konny said. "I'm happy somebody is going to save my house because I can't do it alone."