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09-080 Flood Feature: Always Ready, Always There

BISMARCK, N.D. -- As the forecast continues to predict warmer temperatures for the weekend, North Dakota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen continue to help communities prepare for recording flooding conditions.

The military presence remains obvious at many locations across the state. Over 900 Guardsmen are still busy preparing, patrolling and filling sandbags while many others have been notified to be ready for a quick response when duty calls.

"I'm extremely proud of all of our citizen-Soldiers and citizen-Airmen because of their accomplishments during the past three weeks of fighting floods all across North Dakota," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general. "We've been able to effectively respond with record numbers because of the unyielding and understanding support of our Families, employers and the universities attended by our Guardsmen."

Since early Wednesday morning, Guardsmen have been busy preparing Valley City anticipating the Sheyenne River's crest, which is expected early next week. About 50 personnel filled sandbags and built up dikes earlier this week. Today, nearly 100 will begin 24/7 duty there, patrolling dikes, manning 40 pumps, setting up more than a half-dozen traffic control points and establishing a quick reaction force to respond to leaks, breaches or any other dike problems.

On Thursday, Soldiers from the Bismarck based 957th Multi-Role Bridge Company prepared two Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTTs) and transported 20,000 empty sandbags and two pumps to just southwest of Valley City, in LaMoure. Just southeast of Valley City, in Enderlin, Guardsmen continue to patrol dikes and operate traffic control points.

Six pumps have been deployed to Lisbon, while Guardsmen are on standby to perform Ransom
County dike patrol on the east and west side of Lisbon with duty tentatively planned to begin by
weekend's end.

The North Dakota Guard also continues to assist in Minot and communities across Ward County, with a liaison officer closely monitoring the situation. Sandbag machines, equipment and personnel have been provided to support two sandbag operation sites in each Minot and Burlington, and reconnaissance missions continue to identify dike work throughout the area.

"I have visited our Soldiers and Airmen at their jobsites and continue to be impressed by their efforts and dedication to their mission," said Command Sgt. Major Daniel Job, command sergeant major for the North Dakota National Guard Joint Force Headquarters. "It's extremely gratifying to know that these young men and women have put their lives on hold in order to don their military uniforms and serve our communities during record flooding all over the state."

Guardsmen were also busy this past week in Grant County, loading and hauling in gravel for sections of roads that were washed out. It's another example of the variety of work Soldiers and Airmen remain engaged in across the state as they battle current flooding and prepare for the worst of the National Weather Service predictions.

Along the eastern side of the state, many Guardsmen are still active from the effects of the first Red River crest while preparing for a second. Patrols continue in Pembina and Drayton as Guard members monitor and respond to any dike leaks or breaches. A quick reaction force is on standby in Drayton, ready at moment's notice. (The average response time for a quick reaction force team to be on site has been 8 minutes.) In Oxbow, pumps remain on standby, for use as needed.

Soldiers and Airmen continue to stage in both Fargo and Grand Forks for response to flooding in the Red River Valley region, as well. Quick reaction force teams are standing by at the 119th Wing's base in Fargo and in Grand Forks. The National Guard remains in a direct support role to the city of Fargo and Cass County continuing to respond to requests for assistance, such as the recent delivery of 900 pallets of sandbags to the River Drive area in south Fargo.

"Working together with local responders, volunteers, state and federal agencies, we have made a difference in containing rising flood waters," Sprynczynatyk said. "Next week we anticipate that we'll have as many as 2,000 Guardsmen on duty. The fight against rising floodwaters is not over, and we will remain vigilant until all of our communities are safe."

So as the holiday weekend approaches, National Guard Soldiers and Airmen continue to assist in the flood fight across the state. Many will pause tomorrow for Easter services conducted by National Guard chaplains at Armed Forces Reserve Centers in the state, before resuming work to keep communities safe. By Easter Monday, hundreds more Soldiers and Airmen will in-process and join or re-join the flood fight for as long as needed.

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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