By Sgt. Jessica Barnett, Kansas Adjutant General's DepartmentJuly 12, 2011
ELWOOD, Kan., July 12, 2011 -- Soldiers from the Kansas National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 130th Field Artillery deployed to Doniphan County, June 28, 20111, to provide security patrols in Elwood, Kan. The tasking came through the Kansas Division of Emergency Management at the request of the mayor of Elwood and county emergency management officials.
“We enacted our voluntary evacuation and we have several houses that are empty,” said George Mitchell Jr., mayor of Elwood, Kan. “Our four man [police] force would be worn out by the time things could settle down. The Soldiers were offered to us, so I went ahead and requested them to help patrol and protect properties that are vacant at this time.”
Elwood and Wathena, Kan., officials issued a voluntary evacuation for their cities, as the Missouri River hit 29 feet, June 27. As of the end of June, an estimated 400 residents have left Elwood as a precaution.
“We are roving around making sure there is no looting going on,” said Sgt. Derick Maschmeier, a fire direction control specialist for multiple launch systems with Battery A, 2nd-130th Filed Artillers, and resident of Hanover, Kan. “We are driving around making sure everyone is safe. If the time comes to have to evacuate everybody, we’ll just take action and help everybody evacuate the town.”
As residents leave, they notify the city to let the Soldiers know what homes and businesses need to be patrolled.
“The response we are getting [from the community] is tremendous,” said Mitchell. “I believe our people are at ease, as they can. But with the Guard being here I believe they are at ease knowing that their property is protected and that the levee is being protected, as well.”
These Soldiers are in addition to 10 that have been on duty in Doniphan County since early June monitoring levees for possible problems such as sand boils, soft spots and animals burrowing holes.
“It’s good to just be here for the community,” said Capt. Jonathan Hines, battalion intelligence officer for the 2nd-130th FA, and an Olatha, Kan., resident. “They love having us here. They love seeing us around."
"They asked specifically for us to come out here and drive around to provide the security presence," he said. "So the fact that we answered their call looks good on the National Guard and I think it’s gratifying for us to be here where we are needed and do what they need.”