FLOOD NEWS: Small Crew of Soldiers Keeps Traffic Moving as Lisbon Prepares for Flooding
By SSGT Amy Wieser Willson, North Dakota National Guard
/ Published March 17, 2010
Lisbon, N.D. -- It's nonstop hauling in Lisbon this week as dump trucks bump through town with load after load of mud and clay. The city is quickly building a dike to hold back the rising Sheyenne River. As of today, it was at 14.53 feet with flood stage listed at 15 feet and a crest expected around 17.5 feet in a few days, according to the National Weather Service.
The trucks' movement is facilitated through five traffic control points operated by 14 North Dakota Army National Guard Soldiers. The small group, all volunteers, responded to the call for help in a matter of hours. Some, like Sgt. 1st Class Larry Jacobson, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the group, were called Sunday evening and asked to report by 1 p.m. Monday. Others, like Pfc. Scott Ness, moved even faster.
"I got the call a little after 1 p.m. and reported by 3 o'clock," Ness said. "The reason I didn't get there sooner is I was waiting for a ride."
Ness replaced a Soldier who had planned to take part in the mission but had to bow out due to a medical concern.
All 14 completed in-processing procedures in Fargo on Monday, and then headed to Lisbon, where they started directing traffic at 7 a.m. Tuesday. They stay on shift until about 7:30 or 8 p.m.
"As long as (the contractor) runs trucks, we man the traffic control points," Jacobson said.
The hours are long and the duty a bit monotonous, but the crew didn't have a single complaint.
"Pretty neighborly place, this Lisbon. I think we're all going to be on the weight control program when we leave," Jacobson said with a grin before describing all of big helpings of food that the townspeople have been dishing up for them. He said the store owners regularly run cups of coffee out to them while they're on shift in the streets, too.
The Guardsmen anticipate the mission in Lisbon will continue to evolve as the river rises and dike construction progresses. No matter what changes may come, the Guardsmen are ready for the challenge and anxious to help.