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Minnesota National Guard
Guard on patrol after deadly tornados

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has mobilized 118 Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard to assist local law enforcement after 39 tornados ripped through the state today

Forty-three Soldiers from the Wadena-based D Co, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry and 75 Soldiers from the Albert Lea-based D Co, 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry are mobilized in support of Wadena, Freeborn and Steele County authorities, providing security patrols and operating traffic checkpoints

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"Right now in Freeborn County we have 10 checkpoints setup in strategic locations" said Lt Scott Shatec of D Co, 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry

Our job is to turn away people that aren't supposed to be in the area affected by the tornadoes, said Shatec Checkpoints throughout the area have seen an influx of onlookers who could impair recovery efforts

The most important part is to help insure that people are not in areas that are not yet safe  There are downed power lines and the potential for gas leaks  It is important that people don't lose their lives by trying to get things that can be replaced  In a short time engineers and other utility workers will have had a chance to get to the area to ensure that they are safe for people to enter to retrieve necessary items

Some residents are already able to start sifting through the remnants of their homes as an army of utility workers are working quickly to restore power

National Guard Armories in Wadena and Albert Lea have been opened for stranded travelers and local citizens in need

It's been a busy couple of days for Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Dahlen, of Freeborn, Minn, who has been at the Albert Lea armory for the last two days

"It was a normal day here at the armory We were doing our annual Red Cross blood drive and the participation started to drop off" said Dahlen "After the sixth or seventh tornado alarm, my phone began to ring off the hook"

In addition to the Red Cross staff, at least ten people sought refuge in the armory

Three Minnesotans died and at least 20 were injured during a series of tornado activity that Governor Pawlenty predicted to be "close to 40 touchdowns all over Minnesota"

By Staff Sgt Ben Houtkooper
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
18 June, 2010





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