National Guard Helps Make Water Safe in Minot

MINOT, N.D., June 27, 2011 — When flood­wa­ters back up city water and san­i­ta­tion sys­tems and make the water unsafe to drink, res­i­dents can quick­ly find them­selves in short sup­ply of a much-need­ed resource.

That’s where sol­diers like Army Sgt. Bur­ton Atkin­son and Army Sgt. 1st Class John Hal­gren come in. Mak­ing dirty water safe to drink is what they and their team do, and they’re putting those skills to use at the local hos­pi­tal here.

We’re puri­fy­ing water for the hos­pi­tal … in case the water plant has a prob­lem,” said Hal­gren, a water purifi­ca­tion spe­cial­ist with the North Dako­ta Nation­al Guard’s 136th Com­bat Sus­tain­ment Sup­port Bat­tal­ion.

Civil­ian offi­cials sent out a boil order for res­i­dents of the flood­ed city. “Right now, in the city of Minot, you’re not sup­posed to drink the tap water” since it has been deemed unsafe, explained Atkin­son, a water purifi­ca­tion non­com­mis­sioned offi­cer with the 132nd Quar­ter­mas­ter Com­pa­ny.

Atkin­son said the water purifi­ca­tion unit his team set up is help­ing peo­ple to avoid “a bunch of steps” to get clean water.

Like many oth­er sol­diers, Atkin­son has seen a lot of calls-to-action in the last month in many parts of the state.

We’ve been in Minot on this [mis­sion] for about a week-and-a-half. We spent a week in Bis­mar­ck, and we’ll be here for anoth­er week,” he said. “We’ve been run­ning all sorts of mis­sions, stay­ing busy and doing a lit­tle bit of every­thing.”

Atkin­son — like many oth­er North Dako­ta Guard mem­bers — is no stranger to the recent flood­ing in his state.

I live in an evac­u­at­ed area down in Vel­va,” he said. “As of right now, there is no water at my house, but I have every­thing tak­en out of it.”

Atkin­son said he enjoys help­ing flood vic­tims as part of his job as a water purifi­ca­tion sergeant.

It’s hard to be away from fam­i­ly and your home,” he said, “espe­cial­ly when you’re in an evac­u­at­ed area … but I’m glad to be here and help­ing out Minot because there is real­ly noth­ing I can do at my house.”

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