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Minnesota National Guard
National Guard battles winter storms in five states

March 25, 2009 ARLINGTON, Va -- Rain and melting snow continue to increase flooding in five states across the northern United States today

More than 1,200 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have been called up in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming to help state residents deal with the early spring storm

In North Dakota, the number of Guard members called up has quadrupled since the weekend to 800

"We have Soldiers and Airmen working around the clock to respond to communities' emergency requests," said Col Jim Hrdlicka, who is commanding Joint Task Force - East in Fargo, ND

"Despite predictions, we are very confident that North Dakota citizens and our communities, together with the Guard, Department of Emergency Services, Department of Transportation and US Army Corps of Engineers can mitigate this threat to the best of our abilities"

Since March 20, Soldiers and Airmen have filled sandbags; transported equipment, such as pumps and generators; manned traffic control points, constructed a clay dike in Fargo and set up hesco barriers for flood protection

"As we stabilize the site here in Fargo, we're prepared to move north to Grand Forks later this week," said Capt Craig Hillig, operations officer for Joint Task Force - East. "We will still have personnel in Fargo, but we'll be moving north to follow the water."

North Dakota Guard troops also continue to come to the aid of their neighbors

"The Soldiers don't only save our country, they save the people, one by one," said Rose Silbernagl, 87, of Linton, ND "I never thought they'd save me"

Rose has lived in her home since 1951, "and this is the first time I had to get the heck out of there," she said

A widow, Rose has a bad heart and is on oxygen, but she opened her home to four friends, who were flooded out earlier this week When her sewer backed up, she still didn't want to leave, but her 15 children insisted

Sgt Andrew Rohrich was one of the Soldiers who helped Rose get out of the water and over to the county courthouse, which is serving as an evacuation center

Rohrich is a Linton native, who now lives in Bismarck, where he works full time for the Guard

Rose has known him since he was knee high, and she joked, "There's a reason there was a flood - so I can see you guys!"

Rose doesn't know when she will be able to return to her home "Just have to make the best of it," she said before leaving to stay with her sister-in-law

In Minnesota, the Red River and its tributaries are expected to crest in the Fargo-Moorhead area on Thursday shifting sandbagging operations to smaller communities

Almost 400 Guard members, including Soldiers from the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, based in Moorhead, Minn, are on duty providing security at sandbagging sites, conducting dike patrols and manning traffic control points in three counties as well as securing pumps in the cities of Perly, Hendrum and Halstad, Minn, according to the Minnesota National Guard Web site

In South Dakota, blizzard conditions necessitated the call-up of six National Guard Soldiers along with two snow blowers, two humvees and one pickup truck to help with snow removal in the Rapid City and Sturgis areas

Asked about coverage of these missions, Army Maj Brendan Murphy, the state public affairs officer, said: "None of my folks have left our houses yet"

In Montana, several vehicles have been stranded in the southeast corner of the state since March 23 due to heavy snow and subzero temperatures

The state's Department of Transportation asked the National Guard for help rescuing stranded motorists

Army Maj Tim Crowe, the state public affairs officer, said 13 Guardsmen along with one CH-47 and one UH-60 were deployed to Powder River and Carter County to support search and rescue operations

The helicopters were loaded with warm clothing, sleeping bags and food and sent to search for stranded motorists along US Highway 212 between Broadus and Alzada, Mont, on March 24

Crews will resume the search in the Broadus, Ekalaka and Alzada areas this morning, Crowe said

In eastern Wyoming, several residents sought refuge at the National Guard armory in Wheatland, said Deidre Forster, the state public affairs officer

By Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke "¢ National Guard Bureau

(Sgt Ann Knudson of the North Dakota Army National Guard contributed to this story) Read more at www.ngb.army.mil
Read the Minnesota National Guard press release.

Follow this link to see a graphic on the history of flooding in the Red River Basin arranged by the U.S. Geological Survey

March 25, 2009: "100 More National Guard Soldiers sent to Red River," StarTribune

March 24, 2009: "100 More National Guard Soldiers sent to Red River," StarTribune

March 24, 2009: "Lower projection on Red upstream may help Fargo," 5 EYEWITNESS News

March 24, 2009: "State offers flood assistance," Bemidji Pioneer

March 23, 2009: "Minnesota Soldiers help with battle against river," INFORUM, The forum of Fargo-MoorheadMarch 23, 2009: "Minnesota Guard will help the fight," StarTribune

March 23, 2009: "Minnesota, N.D. Guard respond to Red River Valley flooding," National Guard Bureau

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