Guardsmen Stranded by Rising Waters Resume Their Mission
From a Colorado National Guard News Release
CENTENNIAL, Colo., Sep. 17, 2013 Sixteen Colorado National Guard members and first responders who were unable to evacuate themselves after they were stopped by rising flood waters Sept. 15 have resumed their regularly scheduled mission.
Soldiers and airmen from the Colorado National Guard, along with members of civilian emergency response agencies, combine efforts to fill sandbags at the Arvada Fire Protection District Training Center in Arvada, Colo., to help mitigate flooding in the area, Sept. 15, 2013. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Manzanares
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
A mix of 51 Colorado National Guard members, Urban Search and Rescue personnel and civilians, along with five pets and six high-mobility military trucks, were reported to be stopped by rising waters in Lyons, Colo.
Fort Carson aviators piloting two helicopters evacuated all 10 civilians and their pets, along with a number of Guard members and Army Reserve personnel, before weather took another bad turn and aviation operations were suspended for the night. Flights were limited for most of the day, as heavy rain and low ceilings hampered visibility, causing flight safety issues.
Rather than wait out the storm, the remaining 16 service members -- seven Colorado Guard members and nine Army Reserve soldiers -- spent several hours going door to door in the flood area, looking for anyone else who may have needed help. As the stranded rescuers were knocking, a family offered the group a warm place to stay overnight.
The group headed back out early yesterday to search for more people in distress. Later, they teamed up with Colorado Department of Transportation and Boulder County professionals to build a makeshift bridge that would allow the Guard and Army reserve members to leave the area, along with one evacuee.
As of 5:45 p.m. MDT yesterday, more than 700 military members in tactical trucks and helicopters had rescued more than 2,400 people and hundreds of pets displaced by flooding in Colorado, and all 21 military helicopters scheduled to perform evacuation operations were in service.
In addition to ground and aerial evacuation operations, Colorado National Guard members also are manning more than 40 traffic control points in several affected counties to ensure public safety and protect property.
The Colorado National Guard, Wyoming National Guard, and the Army’s 4th Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Carson are working in direct support of civilian authorities, officials said.
Lance Blyth, U.S. Northern Command historian, said the military response to the Colorado floods, dubbed “Operation Centennial Raging Waters,” likely is the biggest rotary-wing airlift mission since the 2005 Hurricane Katrina response.