SAND SPRINGS, Okla. - Working in austere conditions with thick, gooey mud near a raging river is nothing new for a few U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District, employees.
Terry Hawkins, a program analyst during normal hours and a sandbag central maestro during a disaster, is currently supporting the Tulsa District flood fight response efforts by coordinating sandbag support for Levee District 12 just west of Tulsa. Hawkins, a retired noncommissioned officer that served with the 101st Airborne Division said he's been to a lot of different places throughout his career but this was the first time he's been able to give back to his community here at home.
A native of Muskogee, Oklahoma, Hawkins said this mission is special to him for the fact that he knows so many people directly impacted by the flooding. He said he has family up and down the Canadian River and even had to evacuate his wife's aunt. Despite all of the challenges his family is facing with the floods, Hawkins said he is happy he can be a part of the Corps' team that is doing everything they can to reduce flood impacts to communities in Northeast Oklahoma.
Hawkins said the team, consisting of Soldiers from the Oklahoma National Guard's 179th an 279th Infantry Battalions, sandbag experts from the Corps' Rock Island District and support of the local communities to include amazing support from Tulsa County, has been working cooperatively 24 hours a day to provide the logistics necessary for communities and citizens in need of sandbags.
Bill Minock, Tulsa District logistics fleet manager, said he couldn't be more appreciative of the teamwork he's seen with the flood response. He said the analogy of a dual gear link is fitting. "Whenever something breaks, we have someone from the team ready to step up and fix the problem or find a solution," he said.
Minock said the team has been providing technical experts to assist the levee district in monitoring the Tulsa West Tulsa levees and providing pumps, too. The pumps are being used to remove water on the dry side of the levees. He said the pumps are working to lessen the impacts brought on by many days of heavy rainfall across Oklahoma and Kansas watersheds.
Regardless of the challenges faced by the team, Hawkins said he and his team of teams are working as one group to win the flood fight. "We have a very, very good rapport with these guys," he said. "We are all in and will do whatever we can to help these communities."