Local, Utah Guard Members Aid Colorado Flood Response
By Army Capt. Adam Musil
36th Infantry Division
AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 11, 2013 The 36th Infantry Division's Domestic All-Hazards Response Team-West continues to coordinate assistance requests and support for the Colorado flood relief effort.
A military hydraulic excavator belonging to the Texas Army National Guard's 36th Infantry Division supports the Colorado flood relief efforts. Courtesy photo by Domestic All-Hazards Response Team-West
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"The floods have stopped, but the damage that remains provides huge problems for the people in the area," said Army Capt. Robert Anspaugh, the planner for Domestic All-Hazards Response Team-West, or DART-W. "The type of destruction ranges from simple road damage to roads being completely washed away, leaving large craters. Some people can't get to their homes and are having to backpack-in fuel and food."
The DART-W was notified of the flood weeks ago during a training exercise focused on hurricane and flood response. Within a few days of the notification, DART-W had soldiers on the ground to assist with coordinating the relief effort. DART-W helped establish the reception, staging, and onward movement centers for incoming troops and assessed unit capability gaps.
"Once we established the needs of the mission, we reached out to Guard units in the surrounding areas for additional support. The Utah National Guard will be the first to assist the Colorado units already in place," Anspaugh said.
The Colorado National Guard's 947 Engineer Company was the first to respond to the floods. The unit was activated Sept. 20. Within 48 hours, they were filling damaged roads. The Utah National Guard will provide additional engineers and equipment to double the engineer assets. The additional manpower will enable the units to set up rotations and provide continuous operations.
"We have assembled a rotational plan of Army and Air guards that will carry through November 25," said Army 1st Sgt. Christopher Schrag, DART-W noncommissioned officer-in-charge. "This will allow the units time to complete the entire Highway 36 and take on the smaller side roads before the major impact of the weather."
With already one snow this season, officials believe snow and cold weather will greatly hinder the units' ability to restore the roads.
"Realistically, we have until about the end of November to get all the roads fixed before the weather gets too bad," Anspaugh said.
Schrag, who returned early this week from Colorado, believes procedures have been set in place to provide for an effective response.
"This operation is a Joint Guard initiative. We have Guard units from two states [Colorado, Utah] on the ground now and Air and Army Guard units from an additional seven states [Kansas, Tennessee, New Mexico, South Dakota, Montana, Florida, Virginia] set to rotate in. I'm confident we can get the job done," Schrag said.
Comprised of Texas Army National Guard soldiers, the DART-W, based in Austin, Texas, at Camp Mabry, is responsible for synchronizing the National Guard response to major hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires west of the Mississippi River.
The DART-W is one of two primary DAR headquarters. The other, DART-East is commanded by the 29th Infantry Division, and headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va. Command of each headquarters rotates annually between Army National Guard divisions. The 36th Infantry Division has been selected to lead DART-W for two years.