By Spc. William E. Henry and Staff Sgt. Chris JenningsJune 9, 2008
MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (Army News Service, June 9, 2008) - Indiana National Guard troops were activated Saturday to help residents caught in flash flooding across the state when unprecedented rainfall made the already saturated soil unstable.
National Guard Soldiers helped evacuate residents from flooded areas, provided neighborhood security, placed sand bags around critical facilities such as hospitals and helped feed displaced citizens at temporary shelters.
One of the hardest hit areas was in Morgan County where Martinsville residents found themselves fleeing to safety from low-lying areas of the town.
During the first part of the day, Cadet Mitch Connelly, 1st Battalion, 151st Infantry said he found himself in a quite different situation than he'd anticipated. His tasks included providing security with other Soldiers in the area, getting Meals Ready to Eat for Soldiers and working with a local catering service that made a temporary staging area at the armory until a high school was prepared to take the influx of people that were displaced.
The catering service, Water to Wine, relied on donations from requests put out over the radio to help feed hundreds of hungry and thirsty people in the early part of the day.
One of the partners of the company, Janene Morris, said her own home was flooded. But rather than worrying about her own needs, she instead took initiative to help others.
"What can I do'" asked Morris, "I can't do anything at home, but I can do something here."
Some residents, like Brenda Cramer, decided to stay in their home when water seemed to be receding and had to take a ride from the National Guard through high water.
"I've never seen it flood here like this," said Brenden Fearrin after 2nd Battalion, 150th Field Artillery Soldiers urged him and his father, Erik Burns, to get out of their flooded home and into the five-ton truck headed for higher ground.
"I'm just grateful they came to get us," said Burns.
Soldiers continued their search of the area until dark clearing out seven people, including a young child and mother, from the flood stricken areas of east Martinsville and moving them to the high school where volunteers and emergency personnel waited to help those forced out of their homes.
In Terre Haute, the situation was much the same. The Air National Guard's 181st Intelligence Wing joined Soldiers from Army National Guard's 519th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion in preparing sandbags.
The 181st and 519th offered support late Saturday night as they sand-bagged critical low-lying areas surrounding Terre Haute Regional Hospital. In Terre Haute, Thompson ditch was overflowing in front of the hospital and as the flood waters rushed into the neighborhoods, Rea Park and surrounding areas. Across the street more than 50 Air and Army Guard personnel focused their attention on the main utility facilities supporting the hospital.
"We provided sand bags around their operational and back-up facilities," said Lt. Col. Kevin Vedder, commander, 519th CSSB. "This was a successful joint operation and everyone has been positive and motivated."
(Spc. William E. Henry serves with Indiana Army National Guard, and Staff Sgt. Chris Jennings serves with the Air National Guard's 181st Intelligence Wing Public Affairs Office)