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09-099 Flood Feature: Soldiers and Airmen Fight the Flood in Southeast N.D.

JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- The southeast corner of North Dakota remains active with National Guard members. Soldiers and Airmen are in many small towns along back roads of the North Dakota countryside; many have never even heard of these towns, until now.

As the flood fight operations continue, members of the North Dakota Army and Air National Guard and Minnesota Army National Guard are working together for the same fight.

Affected by the Sheyenne River, Guardsmen of the 112th Aviation Battalion (Bismarck), 231st Brigade Support Battalion (Valley City) and 188th Engineer Battalion (Wahpeton) were at Clausen Springs Dam on April 16 supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Together, their mission was the same - to fill a portion of the dam and control the amount of water being released.

In two days, more than 100 1-ton sandbags were placed into the dam by sling loads attached to a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Soldiers helped load the helicopter with the sandbags and stayed alert to keep the mission moving quickly and carefully.

While these sandbags were loaded and positioned, other members of the North Dakota Army National Guard cleared a path down to the water's edge. Spc. Josh Deitz, from the 231st Brigade Support Battalion's Company A, cleared a path through a field and down the bank, using a bulldozer to provide access for 5-ton trucks to bring in materials to fill in the remainder of the dam.

"Everything has been going really well, and we hope it continues like this," said 1st Sgt. Chris Rath, with the 231st Brigade Support Battalion's Company B.

In Kathryn, N.D., just east of the Clausen Springs Dam, six Airmen from the 119th Wing in Fargo patrolled dikes, monitored bridges and provided 24-hour security operations. This group is the first in Kathryn to have duty for 24 hours, as the previous shifts rotated every 12 hours. These Airmen remained highly motivated and were happy to help as a few residents were coming and going to gather remaining items in their homes after the evacuation.

Pumps still hummed in the small town of Fort Ransom, just south of Kathryn, as two members of the North Dakota Army National Guard worked diligently around the clock. Staff Sgt. William R. Griffin, of the 136th Combat Service Support Battalion in Devils Lake, and Spc. Jessica Sandberg, of the 132nd Quartermaster Company's Detachment 2 in Rugby, are watching and maintaining pumps at two locations along the Sheyenne River.

"These areas will be filled by morning," Sandberg said. "It takes two pumps 6 hours to empty them back out."

Working from about 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., these Soldiers know the long hours are paying off. Both Sandberg and William were happy to sleep at night, knowing that members of the 191st Military Police Company (Fargo) were patrolling the dikes along Fort Ransom.

Approximately 28 miles southwest of Fort Ransom, the city of LaMoure has been affected by a different river - the James River. About 90 Guardsmen from the Minnesota Army National Guard are working throughout the town. These Soldiers are helping with dike patrolling, pump operating and maintaining, security operations and repairing and replacing poly along the dikes.

These Guardsmen are staying in the LaMoure High School, Civic Center and American Legion, and eating at the local diner between servings of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and T-Rations (Tray Rations), which are pre-packaged heated military meals.

As the fight continues, members of the National Guard know the long days, cold nights and long trips away their homes and families are paying off. Local residents have welcomed them in and showed great support to all of them, knowing that they are sacrificing a little something, too.

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Since the terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 2,800 Soldiers and more than 1,600 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. In recent weeks, nearly 2,000 North Dakota National Guardsmen - with support of about 400 additional Soldiers and Airmen from six other states - have been mobilized for current flood fighting missions all across North Dakota. With a total force of about 4,400 Soldiers and Airmen, we continue to have sufficient forces available to provide support for state and national emergencies and homeland defense.

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