National Guard helps make water safe in Minot
June 27, 2011
MINOT, N.D., June 27, 2011 -- When floodwaters back up city water and sanitation systems and make the water unsafe to drink, residents can quickly find themselves in short supply of a much-needed resource.
Thatâ€™s where Soldiers like Sgt. Burton Atkinson and Sgt. 1st Class John Halgren come in. Making dirty water safe to drink is what they and their team do, and theyâ€™re putting those skills to use at the local hospital here.
â€śWeâ€™re purifying water for the hospital in case the water plant has a problem,â€ť said Halgren, a water purification specialist with the North Dakota National Guardâ€™s 136th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion.
Civilian officials sent out a boil order for residents of the flooded city.
â€śRight now, in the city of Minot, youâ€™re not supposed to drink the tap waterâ€ť since it has been deemed unsafe, explained Atkinson, a water purification noncommissioned officer with the 132nd Quartermaster Company.
Atkinson said the water purification unit his team set up is helping people to avoid â€śa bunch of stepsâ€ť to get clean water.
Like many other Soldiers, Atkinson has seen a lot of calls-to-action in the last month in many parts of the state.
â€śWeâ€™ve been in Minot on this [mission] for about a week-and-a-half. We spent a week in Bismarck, and weâ€™ll be here for another week,â€ť he said. â€śWeâ€™ve been running all sorts of missions, staying busy and doing a little bit of everything.â€ť
Atkinson -- like many other North Dakota Guard members -- is no stranger to the recent flooding in his state.
â€śI live in an evacuated area down in Velva,â€ť he said. â€śAs of right now, there is no water at my house, but I have everything taken out of it.â€ť
Atkinson said he enjoys helping flood victims as part of his job as a water purification sergeant.
â€śItâ€™s hard to be away from family and your home,â€ť he said, â€śespecially when youâ€™re in an evacuated area, but Iâ€™m glad to be here and helping out Minot because there is really nothing I can do at my house.â€ť