Fresh Minnesota Soldiers, Airmen assist with Minot flood recovery mission
July 26, 2011
MINOT, N.D., July 26, 2011 -- Flooding has receded, residents have been allowed back into their homes to assess the damage and unseasonable rainfall has tapered off.
However, the work of the North Dakota National Guard and Minnesota National Guard continues in Minot, N.D., nearly a month after an historic flood crest on the Souris River.
On July 22, the day the North Dakota State Fair was to begin, Soldiers and Airmen from the North Dakota and Minnesota National Guard were working around the clock to bring the city of Minot back to a sense of normalcy.
More than 150 Soldiers and Airmen were working in Minot Friday.
Minnesota units with 101 people included the 151st Field Artillery, Montevideo, the 682nd Engineer Battalion, Willmar, and the 133rd Air Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard in St. Paul.
North Dakota's 50 Soldiers are mostly members of the 1-188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, headquartered in Grand Forks, with volunteers from various parts of the state filling in positions, including the 164th Forward Support Company in Minot.
Between Minnesota National Guard's Team Engineer and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, most transportation arteries throughout the city have now been opened, but plenty of work remains to remove clay dikes and clean up debris.
"The drop in the level at Lake Darling will have an impact on us," said Joint Task Force Minot operations officer Capt. Andrew Nathan. "But it's the stagnant water that has become the issue. It's going to take more pumping."
Lake Darling Dam is approximately 20 miles upstream of Minot to the northwest, and is used to store water on the Souris River after it enters the United States at Sherwood, N.D.
According to Nathan, two pumping missions will continue until there is no longer a need for them. National Guard Soldiers monitor and maintain industrial pumps, removing flood water from the Terracita Vallejo neighborhood in west Minot as well as the Talbott subdivision northwest of town.
This is the second time in 10 years that Terracita Vallejo has had to deal with a major disaster. In January 2002, a Canadian Pacific Railway train derailed, spilling deadly anhydrous ammonia into the neighborhood forcing residents to flee their homes during the overnight hours of Jan. 18, 2002.
Optimistically, the water has receded considerably and the pumping mission continues as a partnership between the Minnesota National Guard's Team Thunder and the Ward County Water Resource Board. Team Thunder is also operating roving patrols around the city.
The One Stop Shop, located at Job Service North Dakota in Minot, continues processing contractors and their employees.
According to 1st Lt. Dawn Holm, officer in charge of a North Dakota National Guard squad assisting Job Service personnel, more than 100 people are flowing through the One Stop Shop each day and more than 1,200 have now been processed since the stop opened July 11.
The One Stop Shop was created by North Dakota Attorney Gen. Wayne Stenehjem to prevent contractors from taking advantage of flood victims.
Guard members are tasked with keeping lines moving orderly and efficiently, passing out preliminary applications to fill out and printing identification badges.
Joint Task Force Minot is operated by personnel from the 1-188th and is led by task force commander Maj. John Kapocius, Grand Forks.
The 132nd Quartermaster Company, Grand Forks, recently completed its mission purifying water for Minot's Trinity Hospital and pulled out of town on Thursday. A total of 21 personnel worked at two sites in downtown Minot to keep fresh water flowing into the main hospital and the St. Joseph's annex while a boil order was in effect.
Hospital officials said had it not been for the North Dakota National Guard, the hospital may have had to shut down and evacuate patients or boil water, which could have been a logistical nightmare for hospital staff. At the peak of use, the 132nd, and its predecessor, the 136th Combat Service Support Battalion, Devils Lake, were delivering nearly 100,000 gallons of clean water to Trinity and up to 45,000 gallons to St. Joseph.
On July 19, a sweltering day that set heat index records in parts of North Dakota, Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley was in Minot to thank members of Minnesota's 682nd Engineer Battalion prior to their departure and to present Army Achievement Medals to five of the battalion's Soldiers for going above and beyond the line of duty.
In addition to Wrigley, Col. Mike Aberle, deputy director of Joint Staff of NDNG, Command Sgt. Maj. Dan Job, NDNG senior enlisted leader, Maj. Gen. Merdith Temple, acting commanding general of the Corps of Engineers, Maj. Gen. Murray Sagsveen, flood recovery director and less than two weeks ago, Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Defense, have all visited Minot and Ward County to see the devastation and note the recovery thus far.