ARLINGTON, Va., June 25, 2010 — Almost 300 National Guard members from four states are helping to battle oncoming and long-gone flood waters this week.
In South Dakota, 130 soldiers from the 200th Engineer Company and the 153rd Engineer Battalion are helping to fill sandbags in the towns of Huron, Woonsocket and Bonilla. The mission is to place about 20,000 sandbags in Woonsocket to channel water through the town.
Army Maj. Brendan Murphy, public affairs officer for the South Dakota Guard, said emergency management personnel will decide tomorrow whether more sandbags are needed. About 3,000 sandbags have been staged in Bonilla.
In Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon called up 33 soldiers with vehicle support to remove debris from the northwest counties of Mingo, Logan, Wyoming and McDowell.
Task Force Northwest is commanded by Air Force Col. Mike Pankau of the 139th Airlift Wing, based in St. Joseph, Mo.
Guard officials said the dams in the Dakotas are full, and that the Army Corps of Engineers plans to let out water to release pressure on them, which will increase the water flow in the Missouri River.
“Soldiers and airmen are conducting a variety of missions supporting civil authorities, including manning traffic control points and monitoring levees,” said Army 2nd Lt. John Quin, a public affairs officer for the Missouri Guard. “Guardsmen are also serving as liaison officers with local emergency operations centers and civil authorities.”
North Dakota has one UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and its 10-member crew on stand-by to respond, if needed, to evacuate residents unable to use the roads in the Devils Lake area. “The crew should be relieved today as Devils Lake takes over the evacuation mission with a high-lifted ambulance,” said Army Lt. Col. Rick Smith, public affairs officer for the North Dakota National Guard.
West Virginia has almost 100 Guardsmen cleaning up the debris that residents found in their homes in Wyoming County, said Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Cadle, public affairs officer for the West Virginia Guard. About 55 counties in the state have been affected by rain and rapidly melting snow since spring.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)