USA — Guard Responds to Flooding in Three States

ARLINGTON, Va., June 15, 2010 — More than 400 Nation­al Guard mem­bers from three states have been called up for flood duty after heavy rains and snow run-off caused crest­ing rivers this week, offi­cials said.

Wyoming Army National Guard's A Battery, 2-300th Field Artillery
Air Force Staff Sgt. Niki Label of the Wyoming Air Nation­al Guard’s 187th Aeromed­ical Evac­u­a­tion Squadron and Army Pfc. Tay­lor Carl­son of the Wyoming Army Nation­al Guard’s A Bat­tery, 2–300th Field Artillery, fill sand­bags to aid in stop­ping the ris­ing flood waters of the Popo Agie Riv­er in Fre­mont Coun­ty, Wyo., June 11, 2010.
Pho­to by Chris­t­ian Ven­huizen
Click to enlarge

The gov­er­nors of Wyoming, Nebras­ka and West Vir­ginia have declared states of emer­gency and called in the Guard to help in pro­tect­ing peo­ple and their prop­er­ty. In Wyoming, the num­ber of Army and Air Guard mem­bers on state active duty increased from 250 to 400 today.

“The main con­cern con­tin­ues to be the Freemont Coun­ty area,” said Diedre Forster, pub­lic affairs offi­cer for the Wyoming Nation­al Guard. “There is oth­er flood­ing going on in var­i­ous oth­er areas of the state, and we’re keep­ing our eye on them, but Freemont Coun­ty has been the only place we have been called on to assist.”

Chris­t­ian Van­huizen, inci­dent com­mand pub­lic infor­ma­tion offi­cer for Wyoming, said sev­er­al rivers are expect­ed to crest by June 18 and that flood­wa­ters like­ly will con­tin­ue for some time. “Per­son­nel are pro­vid­ing flood mit­i­ga­tion efforts, such as fill­ing and stack­ing sand bags, as well as help­ing [civil­ians] leave their homes in times of insta­bil­i­ty,” he said. “We are also work­ing with local law enforce­ment agen­cies, pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty in flood-dam­aged areas and restrict­ed areas.”

He added that pre­cip­i­ta­tion is expect­ed to con­tin­ue in the form of more thun­der­storms and snow in the high­er ele­va­tions.

“Last week’s flood­ing was caused by a large melt­ing snow­pack up in the moun­tains,” Van­huizen said. “A cold front that passed through the moun­tains late last week stopped the run-off from the melt­ing snow­pack, but also brought with it about two more feet of snow. That’s what we are brac­ing for right now, and some of the rivers are show­ing slight increas­es and we expect those to con­tin­ue through­out the day.”

In Nebras­ka, the Guard respond­ed to requests from the Nebras­ka Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency to assist with dam­age assess­ments after recent statewide flood­ing.

“The flood­ing in our state cov­ers a large geo­graph­ic area and varies in sever­i­ty,” said Army Lt. Col. Bob Vrana, pub­lic affairs offi­cer. “There are about 60 coun­ties that have been impact­ed in one way or anoth­er, and 44 of those have request­ed assis­tance from the state at this point.”

He said about 10 sol­diers are assist­ing the Nebras­ka EMA with dam­age assess­ment and mis­sion analy­sis.

“Some of those 10 are staffing the emer­gency oper­a­tions cen­ter, act­ing as liaisons between the Nebras­ka Nation­al Guard and the emer­gency man­age­ment agency,” Vrana said. “We’re work­ing in con­junc­tion with a num­ber of state [and fed­er­al] agen­cies, and we have the resources to pro­vide more assis­tance if the con­di­tions wors­en.”

Vrana said that the dam­age has been to coun­ty roads, bridges, homes and ranch­es.

In West Vir­ginia, Guard offi­cials said sol­diers were called in to help with debris removal that result­ed from the severe storms.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)