Louisiana Guardsmen Continue Oil Spill Response
By Army Sgt. Michael L. Owens
Louisiana National Guard
GRAND ISLE, La., May 11, 2010 The Louisiana National Guard is conducting around-the-clock operations to fill in a breach near here in support of operations related to the oil spill off the Louisiana coast.
Heavy equipment operators from the Louisiana National Guard bulldoze sand to close a strait between two peninsulas near Grand Isle, La., May 10, 2010. The closure will be a secondary defense in addition to the boom line in the Gulf of Mexico to prevent an oil spill from reaching further inland. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Denis B. Ricou
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Guardsmen of the 922nd Horizontal Engineer Company, 769th Engineer Battalion, have been working day and night to fill in a 700-foot gap on Elmer’s Island in an effort to keep oil-tainted water out of an area that is critical to the state’s shrimp and tourism industries.
“It is important that we keep this operation continuous,” said Army Staff Sgt. Robert L. Lanclos, who is in charge of the night operations. “If we were to take nightly breaks before the entire mission was complete, the water’s current would push and break the sand. Each morning, we would be back to Square One.”
Using five dump trucks, the Guardsmen travel about two miles round-trip along the shoreline to pick up and drop the sand. After the dump trucks drop the sand, a bulldozer pushes and packs it into place.
“It is a really complex mission, but the engineers can handle it,” Lanclos said. “Because we are working after nightfall, we make sure safety is an important element, especially working so close to water.”
Many of the Guardsmen, including Baton Rouge, La., native Army Spc. Collin M. Parent, had never been to Grand Isle, but realize they have a very important mission on their hands.
“I know that we are helping Louisiana out tremendously, especially since the governor and adjutant general came here yesterday,” Parent said. “What we are doing is very important, and I am happy to be a part of it.”