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Minnesota National Guard
Relief from the East

MINOT, ND - Soldiers and Airmen of the North Dakota National Guard have been tirelessly engaged in one flood fight or another across the state both this spring and summer Now, after about 75 days of such duty, they are getting some much-welcomed relief from their eastern neighbor

North Dakota Guard members in Minot are receiving some extra help from 120 Minnesota National Guard Soldiers They arrived July 5 to provide assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, EMAC

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EMAC allows resources - whether personnel or equipment - to be used across state lines during emergencies or disasters It's a nationally adopted and congressionally ratified mutual aid compact that states share responsibility in

Capt Mark McEvers, of the North Dakota National Guard's 136th Quartermaster Battalion (Combat Sustainment Support), said the Minnesota Soldiers are prepared to take over military police operations now being performed by North Dakota Guard units Other Soldiers from Minnesota are heavy equipment operators and horizontal engineers, so extra hands will be available to assist in debris removal and whatever else is needed

"We asked for assistance because the duration of this year's flood fight was exceptional," McEvers said

The National Guard will be assisting in curb-to-curb cleanup to get primary and secondary levees out of the way in order to allow for more normal travel throughout the city Some members of the Minnesota National Guard's 849th Mobility Augmentation Company are among the Soldiers assisting in Minot McEvers said this unit served with him while he was mobilized to Iraq with the 164th Engineer Battalion in 2007 and 2008

"It's funny how things come full circle like that," McEvers said "I think it's always great to work with other units, in and out of state It develops the bond between National Guard Soldiers"

In past years, the North Dakota National Guard has used EMAC to bring in additional aviation assets, such as large CH-47 Chinook helicopters from the Minnesota National Guard, to assist during flooding The dual-rotor aircraft are able to emplace as many as six one-ton sandbags at a time This speeds response during emergency situations, such as when the Clausen Springs Dam, near Kathryn, ND, was quickly eroding in 2009 That same year, when North Dakota saw statewide flooding and 2,000 North Dakota Guardsmen on duty at the peak of operations, the force was bolstered with an additional 250 Minnesota Guardsmen on the ground, as well as 350 Soldiers from the South Dakota National Guard

The EMAC process works both ways, with North Dakota Guardsmen having assisted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and in response to California wildfires While the compact gives states necessary assistance during emergencies and disasters, the responders also gain from the experiences that come from a real-world response No presidential disaster declaration is needed to launch an EMAC; rather, a governor's emergency declaration will suffice to use the system to bring additional resources, which are funded by the requesting state A state's resources need not be exhausted to activate EMAC, either The compact often allows simply for different resources to be made available as the emergency situation dictates

Because of the assistance being provided from the Minnesota Soldiers, many of the North Dakota Guard members will be able to return to their civilian jobs after a long stretch of flood duty The complete release of the Soldiers from Minot will be dependent on how quickly river flows can be reduced and floodwaters recede

"Ideally, we are the last ones in and the first ones out," McEvers said of the military involvement in state disaster response "After assisting with flood-relief efforts in Jamestown, Valley City, Bismarck and now Minot, many Soldiers are looking forward to having all the water back where it's supposed to be"

Currently, more than 600 North Dakota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are involved on state flood-response duty in the Bismarck-Mandan and Minot areas Another 100 active duty Airmen from the Minot Air Force Base are supporting those efforts

By Spc Cassie Simonton, 116th Public Affairs Detachment

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