Guard continues its long tour in flood fight
July 20, 2011
BISMARCK, N.D., July 20, 2011 -- As the heat continues to swelter in North Dakota, North Dakota National Guard troops continue in their steady vigilance to Guard levees and man quick reaction forces in the event of an emergency. As the heat and humidity rise to record levels on day 58 of the central North Dakota flood fight, Guardsmen from North Dakota and Minnesota continue to keep a watchful eye for any dangerous situations in the levees as well as on each other to ensure they don’t succumb to heat injuries.
“We’ve got water, ice and sunscreen,” said Sgt. Ronnie Garza, Fargo, a member of the 191st Military Police Company and the noncommissioned officer in charge of Task Force Mandan levee patrol. “We make sure everybody’s consuming water and getting breaks. If a Humvee’s going any distance, we make sure they have AC and sufficient personnel, at least three.
“If one has issues, one can attend and one can call [for help],” he said. “Up to now, we’ve had no heat casualties. We’re trying to keep tight and safe.”
Maj. Malia Pearson, Linton, a member of the 141st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Fargo, is the executive officer of Task Force Flood operating in Bismarck and Mandan.
“The Soldiers and Airmen are issued Humvees with AC, coolers with ice and water, and Gatorade for electrolytes,” Pearson said. “Levee walkers with long sectors use (All-Terrain Vehicles) instead of walking, and dike walkers either get breaks in the shade or go back to air-conditioned buildings. The ACUs [Army Camouflage Uniforms] that we wear are designed for heat.”
Currently, more than 300 National Guard members are on flood duty in North Dakota. About 170 Guard members are in the Minot and Burlington area, including about 100 from the Minnesota National Guard. About 160 NDNG members are on flood duty in the Bismarck and Mandan area.
Members of the NDNG have served 56,593 workdays on state active duty fighting floods in 2011: 10,265 in eastern North Dakota from March 21 to May 20, and 46,328 in central North Dakota from May 23 to present.