Guard Troops Battle Rising Waters in Missouri, North Dakota
By Bill Phelan
Missouri National Guard
CLARKSVILLE, Mo., April 23, 2013 About 100 Missouri National Guardsmen from units in St. Louis, Hannibal and Cape Girardeau joined community volunteers to work in support of flood relief operations in affected areas.
Army Spc. Bryan Sholts, left, and Army Spc. Alex Preszlerof from the North Dakota Army National Guard’s 191st Military Police Company control traffic in Fargo, April 22, 2013. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
And in North Dakota, about 70 troops were on duty today, as Guard members set up additional traffic control points in Fargo to assist with sandbag levee construction along the Red River.
After more than 5 inches of rain fell in parts of Missouri last week, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon mobilized the National Guard on April 19 to help protect lives and property from rising flood waters, especially along the Mississippi River.
In addition to the weekend Guard response in Clarksville, about 50 soldiers were called yesterday to help with sandbagging operations in Dutchtown, about 150 miles downriver, near Cape Girardeau.
"Missouri's citizen-soldiers and -airmen have proven themselves as true leaders during times of need, and they again are meeting the challenges of this year's floods," said Nixon, who toured Clarksville on April 20 with Army Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, Missouri’s adjutant general.
"Winning these fights to protect lives and property takes close cooperation and coordination between state and local officials, Missouri Guardsmen and volunteers from across the region, and that is what is taking place right now on the Mississippi," Nixon added.
“We are always happy to come to the aid of our fellow Missourians,” Danner said. “We will work directly with the Department of Public Safety, other state agencies and local authorities to answer this call. We are going to ensure that we strengthen that levee wall and do anything else we can to assist.”
Within an hour of being mobilized, airmen from the St. Louis-based 121st Air Control Squadron, the 131st Civil Engineer Squadron and soldiers from the 70th Troop Command were on their way to Clarksville. There, Guard members immediately began to assist with construction of a 1,500-foot sandbag levee. Soldiers from the Hannibal-based 2175th Military Police Company were also called up to help with the effort.
“Our primary mission is to fill a lot of sandbags,” explained Army Capt. Wesley Dickman, of Columbia, commander of the 2175th. “My troops have been working throughout the night to build up the main levee and the side levees protecting some of the buildings. The effort here is really impressive.”
In addition to National Guardsmen, city officials, area residents, Boy Scouts and prison inmates worked around the clock to build up the levee wall. The Guard’s arrival in Clarksville was a welcome sight to volunteers who had been working on the sandbag levee since April 17.
“With this kind of manpower, we can really get things done,” said Ray Wagner, of St. Louis, one of numerous AmeriCorps volunteers working on the wall. “We really appreciate the Guard’s help, because we have several projects that we have not started yet.”
“When AmeriCorps arrived on the scene, we breathed a huge sigh of relief, and when the National Guard arrived, we breathed a bigger sigh of relief,” Clarksville Mayor Jo Anne Smiley said. “Their arrival has relieved us in so many ways I can’t even describe it. This effort would not be successful without them.”
Founded in 1817, Clarksville is no stranger to flooding and has adapted an impressive flood management plan that clearly impressed everyone who saw it implemented.
“This town has been here a long time, and I expect that when the waters recede, Clarksville, Mo., will be open for business as usual,” Nixon said.
Soldiers of the Cape Girardeau-based 1140th Engineer Battalion and the Perryville-based 880th Engineer Team -- both part of the 35th Engineer Brigade, based at Fort Leonard Wood -- were called to fight flood waters in Dutchtown.
"This is one of the reasons we put the uniform on. It's our way of giving back and protecting our community, and we are ready and prepared to help the community and people of Dutchtown,” said Army 1st Sgt. Haskel Rooker of the 1140th Forward Support Company.