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FLOOD FEATURE: Guard Units Converge on Neche

Sgt. Tobias J. Mathern, a Soldier with the 815th Engineer Company, carefully drives a D-7 dozer off of a trailer. The 815th has been assisting a civilian contractor since April 17 to raise the city's levee.

Sgt. Tobias J. Mathern, a Soldier with the 815th Engineer Company, carefully drives a D-7 dozer off of a trailer. The 815th has been assisting a civilian contractor since April 17 to raise the city's levee.

Sgt. Tobias J. Mathern, a Soldier with the 815th Engineer Company, clears a pile of trees on the north dike in Neche, N.D. The 815th has been assisting a civilian contractor since April 17 to raise the city's levee.

Sgt. Tobias J. Mathern, a Soldier with the 815th Engineer Company, clears a pile of trees on the north dike in Neche, N.D. The 815th has been assisting a civilian contractor since April 17 to raise the city's levee.

NECHE, N.D. -- The North Dakota National Guard is assisting civilian contractors here to raise a
levee system by more than a foot as the Pembina River and overland flooding push water toward the southwest side of this small border town. 

The 815th Engineer Company, headquartered in Edgeley, N.D., has been the workhorse in the effort to protect the town, about 90 miles northwest of Grand Forks. 

Since Friday, the 815th Soldiers have hauled about 11,000 sandbags and put down more than 500 cubic yards of clay. The 815th engineers also assisted with removal of debris on the town's north dike, running along the Pembina River. 

"I asked the Guardsmen to move a pile of trees and level off an area where the dike is seeping water," said Lowell Hanson, construction representative for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

"Once it is clear, the contractors will come in with a smaller dozer and finish," he added. 

Soldiers and Airmen from other Guard units, including the 1-188th Air Defense Artillery (ADA), Grand Forks; 957th Multi-role Bridge Company (MRBC), Bismarck; and the 119th Wing, Fargo; have been patrolling Neche's dikes for leaks as well as sandbagging. 

"Soldiers are helping residents sandbag in rural homes around the area," said Staff Sgt. Ross L. Seefeld, of the 1-188th ADA out of Grand Forks, N.D. 

The Soldiers of the 957th MRBC have a Zodiac raft on hand for potential water rescue missions. 

The 134th Quartermaster Company from Cavalier, N.D., also was on duty in Neche with seven water pumps to help the town. 

"We have Soldiers here to set up the pumps wherever needed," said Sgt. 1st Class Freddie Griffin, a detachment commander with the 134th. 

Griffin said two Soldiers would be on 12-hour shifts to monitor the pumps. 

Flooding in the area has started to level off and is likely to stabilize through the weekend. Neche residents like what they are hearing about the Pembina River, which flows through nearby Walhalla, N.D., before Neche. 

"We are watching Walhalla and it shows the level is decreasing there," said Lee Beattie, Neche mayor. 

The Guard will continue to keep a vigilant watch over the city of about 400 residents until the flooding begins to recede and they are no longer needed to assist the city.

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