09-092 Flood Feature: Ready Response in Barnes County
By Spc. Chris Erickson, NDNG Public Affairs
/ Published April 20, 2009
KATHRYN, N.D. -- The National Guard is standing ready in North Dakota to provide assistance to those fighting back high waters.
The Guard has responded to the flood by building and patrolling levees, setting up traffic control points, providing aerial assistance, shoring up breaches in the temporary dike system and acting as an evacuation force. Early this week in the Kathryn area, the Guard demonstrated how quickly it was able to respond to calls for help.
An evacuation force, made up of Soldiers from the 957th Multi-role Bridge Company, the 231st Brigade Support Battalion and the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade drove to Kathryn to support the evacuation effort and get the residents to safety if needed.
Sgt 1st Class Brandon Hemsing, of the 231st Brigade Support Battalion, said the group came out as soon as they heard the call.
"We were given the order that some people might need to be moved," he said. About 20 Soldiers responded with Humvees, two Palletized Load System (PLS) trucks and five light medium tactical trucks (LMTVs). The evacuation was prompted by spillover from the Clausen Springs Dam, which had begun to erode spillway, threatening the dam itself.
Local officials were notified about the hazardous conditions and began thinking of ways with dealing with the problem.
Pete Montalbano is a levee safety program manager with the Mississippi Valley Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has oversight of the Clausen Springs Dam mission. He said one of the first tasks was to find out how the National Guard could help.
The answer was 1-ton sandbags, lifted in by Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters and placed to create a diversion for the current that had started to carve away the banks of the spillway.
"I think they're going to have a tremendous impact, but we're going to need a lot of them," Montalbano said.
By early afternoon today, more than 100 of the bags had been placed, forcing the water into a diversion that had been dug by local contractors using excavators. More than 60 more are on their way yet today.
Close to 1,750 North Dakota National Guardsmen are currently on active duty to help fight flooding throughout the state, including higher threats of the Sheyenne River and Souris River Basin. Approximately 300 more National Guardsmen from Minnesota and Wisconsin are providing extra assistance in Valley City, Jamestown, Minot, Burlington, Lisbon and surrounding areas.
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.