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Minnesota National Guard
Guard stays flexible, continues to support flood effort

MOORHEAD, Minn -- As the levels of the Red River in western Minnesota continue to rise, more than 400 Minnesota National Guard members have been called up to provide support for flood mitigation and support operations.

Many of those Soldiers and Airmen have been working in and around the Moorhead area providing support to local authorities.

"Our primary mission is to support the local sheriffs in anyway that we can," said Lt. Col. Andy Engelhardt, commander of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment, as well as the on-scene commander of Guard flood operations "We're here to back up the sheriffs' department of all the counties If we can relieve the sheriffs of some of their traditional roles, like traffic control, patrolling of areas, that will free them up to work more directly with their local citizens."


And Guard members have been responding in a variety of roles.

"Right now we're operating traffic control points, we're helping to move sandbags with our large trucks into locations where citizens can sandbag their own homes and we are providing roving patrols at night to help maintain law and order even though there have been no incidents," said Engelhardt.

And the Guard members have been able to easily mesh with the local municipalities they are here to support.

"The relationship with the local authorities have been very, very good," said Engelhardt "We attend their Emergency Operations Center meetings and we have a liaison over there."

And that means that Guard members can more easily be shifted around as conditions change.

"Today we're hauling sandbags from Moorhead Tech to seven different points in town," said Spc Cory Desrosier, a truck driver assigned to E Company, 134th Brigade Support Battalion "Currently, we're hauling to the power plant because we had a little breach over one of the banks and we're trying to truck all our sandbags over there to try and stop the breach."

For Desrosier, who hails from the Fargo-Moorhead area, helping to haul sandbags has been a rewarding experience.

"I'm loving it," he said "I like helping the community and they've been saying on the radio for the last two weeks that they need volunteers and I'm glad that we're finally able to get out here and help."

But driving a 33-foot long, eight-wheeled truck capable of hauling 10 tons presents its own challenges.

"They have a turn radius of pretty much a football field, so you just have to find a driveway to get them into and turn them around and back them in," said Desrosier.

Support from the Community.

Many Guard members has received tremendous support from the local community.

"They love us and they've brought us everything you could possibly think of-food, coffee, hot cocoa, they open the house up to us to use the bathroom," said Spc Tony Baker, an infantryman with Company A, 2nd CAB, 136th Inf Regt "It's just amazing."

But Guard members have also faced the frustrations of some in the community.

"People are just tired," said Baker "They've been doing this for a week now, they're tired and they don't know if they're going to be able to hang on or not."

Though the flooding may bring many destructive elements with it, there have also been positive ones as well.

"It's been busy," said Baker "Volunteer people have been showing up in droves It's amazing to watch that sense of support when the community comes together."

And helping with that support is a unique mission for the Guard members.

"This mission is a great example of the dual role of the National Guard," said Engelhardt "This battalion spent more than 16 months in Iraq two years ago, that was the federal mission Now, we're back here doing a state mission helping our fellow citizens protect their homes and protect their property."

And for many Guard members, that's what it comes down to.

"Just know that the National Guard is going to be here until the end, whether it's evacuation, whether it's making sure we're here just to help the police and sheriff's department," said Baker.

Army Staff Sgt Jon Soucy "¢ National Guard Bureau public affairs
March 26, 2009
March 26, 2009: Guard Supports Flood Efforts - Low-Res

Follow the Minnesota National Guard's efforts in the fight at Flood Fight 2009.



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