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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota Guard engineers clean up Minot after flood

Minot, NORTH DAKOTA- Minnesota National Guard Soldiers from the Willmar-based 682nd Engineering Battalion are assisting their North Dakota National Guard neighbors in their flood response effort July 5-Aug 2 The Minnesota National Guard is conducting levee patrols, manning traffic control points, and quick reaction forces giving some relief to hundreds of North Dakota National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who have been on active duty for 40-60 days

The 682nd units comprising Team Engineer performed missions including road repair, removing HESCO barrier and earthen levees, refilling "borrow pits" with dirt, barricade relocation, curb-to-curb street clearing, and other missions as directed by the overall National Guard Task Force Minot

"In terms of civilian impact, we've opened up numerous roads that were blocked by dikes or washed out, we opened up the 3rd street bridge-a main artery through town-and 16th street had a 25' dike going across it until we cleaned it off," said Willmar, Minnesota's Sgt. 1st Class Sean Stafford, Team Engineer's Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge

The biggest impact, however, may be the assistance given to the North Dakota National Guard, "letting the guys that were here before us go home," said 1st Lt Nathan Sokolowski, Officer In Charge of Team Engineer
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Team Engineer Soldiers, largely volunteers, hail from engineer units including the Litchfield-based 849th Mobility Augmentation Company, the Cambridge-based 850th Horizontal Engineer Company, and the Camp Ripley-based 851st Vertical Engineer Company

The command staff intentionally integrated North Dakota and Minnesota Soldiers at all levels "They worked seamlessly together," said Stafford "The North Dakota Soldiers were licensed equipment operators already They fell into our ranks and blended right in"

Interactions with the local officials and citizens of Minot were overwhelmingly positive "The city and county officials were helpful, in particular Dana Larson from Ward County," said Sokolowski "The state patrol have been nothing but understanding and helpful," said Stafford "A good example, on the 54th Ave project we needed help getting equipment across the interstate They brought 4 squad cars out to stop traffic They said "˜Just tell us what you want us to do' "

Team Engineer took over from a group of North Dakota Guard engineer units and is due to turn over operations to another Minnesota team next week Twenty-five percent of Team Engineer has volunteered to extend their two-week tour to four "We've received nothing but kudos from everybody here that we were able to come in with such limited resources and information, hit the ground running and pick up this rolling operation from where they left off, and from the outside looking in, you never would have seen the transition between North Dakota and Minnesota," said Sokolowski In true engineer spirit Stafford concludes, "The Minnesota work ethic remains second-to-none"

When the Minnesota National Guard has moved on to other community support missions a few highlights of Minot Flood Response 2011 will be remembered "I think of the complete awe of the devastation caused by the flood," said Stafford "To see how high the water reached and to realize the actual depth that far into town You're sitting on a city block now and cannot even see water, and yet you look at a building that had water over your head less than 2 weeks prior"

"Letting our brothers in the North Dakota National Guard go home and see their families and friends, deal with family issues," said Sokolowski "Personally helping out the people of Minot, helping them get back into their homes and start the process of rebuilding, those are the biggest things"

17 July, 2011
Story and photos Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Ewer
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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