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Minnesota National Guard
Flooding Leaves 6 Dead, 1 Missing

WINONA, Minn - At least six people died and one man is missing in southeastern Minnesota as storms dumped record-setting amounts of rain, forcing hundreds from their homes and washing out roads and bridges Two sets of Winona County couples stuck in the storm died as a result, Winona County Sheriff David Brand said A 67-year-old man and 66-year-old woman were on County Highway 23 when their car was whisked off the road An 80-year-old man and his 68-year-old wife traveling on County Highway 17 died as their vehicle plummeted 30 feet into water when the thoroughfare washed away under them Two people were killed in neighboring Houston County A vehicle believed to belong to a 37-year-old man was found at an Interstate 90 rest area near the Lewiston exit, but he is still missing The victims' names are expected to be released today as family members are notified, Brand said The evacuation and search efforts for the missing man will continue today, Brand said, as the threat of more rain looms "This is the worst disaster to hit southeast Minnesota in a lifetime," said state Sen Sharon Erickson Ropes, DFL-Winona State rainfall records weren't just broken, they were swamped Some 156 inches of rain deluged Houston County by Sunday evening, the National Weather Service reported That's nearly 5 inches over the state's previous 24-hour rainfall record Other unofficial reports from southeastern Minnesota give even higher amounts of rainfall, with totals as high as 17 inches What's fueling the deluge, forecasters say, are the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin, which blew into Texas last week and have been pushing northward with heavy rain and warm air Although the storm itself was centered over the southern Plains on Sunday, it affected weather through the Mississippi River valley Six people were killed in flooding in Oklahoma "Those tropical systems, they're giant heat and moisture systems," said Matt Friedlein, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Chanhassen Minnesota Gov Tim Pawlenty ordered 240 National Guard Soldiers to the area to help with flood relief and provide security Pawlenty declared a state of emergency in six counties - Winona, Wabasha, Fillmore, Houston, Steele and Olmsted That will allow the state to coordinate response efforts, including using the Army Corps of Engineers to deploy pumps and generators to avoid levee breeches along the Root and Mississippi rivers National Guard Soldiers helped with door-to-door searches and prepared to guard evacuated areas against looting overnight With more rain in the forecast, the Houston City Council ordered an evacuation of the town of 995 people Stockton, with 803 residents, was evacuated, as well, and evacuations also took place in Pickwick and Elba and parts of Winona, which sits on the Mississippi River Houston County Sheriff's dispatcher Dwayne Beckman said 14 roads and highways had been closed, bridges were washed out, and mudslides were reported countywide Houston County authorities were keeping a wary eye on the dike that protects that small city from the rising Root River According to Beckman, the river was at 19 feet "and the dike is good to 20 feet" The heavy rains started falling about 11 pm Saturday night, Winona County Administrator Bob Reinert said Flash flood warnings were issued, but many people didn't anticipate how fast the rising waters could move Low-lying areas were especially prone to flooding, Reinert added Initial rescue efforts took place in the dark as the water quickly rose City officials decided to turn off electricity in Stockton, one of the worst-hit communities, because propane tanks were floating around, Reinert said National Guard members used a Black Hawk helicopter for relief efforts as many people stood atop roofs waiting for rescuers The largest shelter in the area was set up at St Mary's University in Winona, where at least 300 people convened at one point Sunday morning At least 80 people were expected stay in the Red Cross-operated center, according to volunteers Smaller shelters also housed residents in Nodine and at St Charles High School, where about 90 people stayed early Sunday, Reinert said When Goodview resident Mike Snyder, 20, looked out of his garage apartment, he saw a couch riding the currents of brown, muddy floodwater "We knew it was raining, not flooding," said Snyder, who joined his family on a bulldozer that brought them to an evacuation bus Like Snyder and his family, Ryan Pete, 24, of Goodview, found shelter in a gymnasium at St Mary's Pete said he slept through the rain until firefighters knocked on his door as they evacuated the neighborhood Pete plans to stay with friends, but he escaped with only his cell phone, black basketball shorts and sweater He said authorities told him it will be at least two days before he can go home to retrieve more belongings MaryBeth Hasson, her husband and two children were headed back to Chicago on Interstate 90 after a family vacation in South Dakota They heard about the flash flood warnings, Hasson said, and booked a motel room in Minnesota City, a small town north of Winona But at about 5:30 am, they awoke to water rushing into their room and escaped through the window Rescuers on boats helped bring them to dry land The water's current was surprisingly strong, Hasson said Mimi Slater, 68, said she has never experienced a more damaging flood since she moved to the Stockton area nearly 30 years ago "The water washed away everything I mean everything," Slater said "My home, car, photos Basically my whole life" Tom Webb and the Associated Press contributed to this report
Bao Ong can be reached at bong@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5435
Article source: http://www.twincities.com/allheadlines/ci_6666234




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Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."



Minnesota Aviators lead multi-state National Guard partnership for NTC rotation

Posted: 2018-05-21  03:51 PM
2-147 NTC FORT IRWIN, Calif. - The Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion is working together with aviation units from four different states to provide support to the Tennessee-based 278th Armored Calvary Regiment during a rotation at National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.

Making up Task Force Ragnar is Utah-based B Company, 1st Battalion, 211th Assault Reconnaissance Battalion; Nevada-based B Company, 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion; Michigan-based C Company, 3-238th GSAB; and Minnesota-based A, D, E and Headquarters Companies, 2-147th AHB and F Company, 1-189th GSAB.

"Early coordination with the units across four states combined with exceptional unit leadership and motivated Soldiers helped us to quickly build the task force when we closed on Fort Irwin," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, Task Force Commander. "I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and teamwork of task force Soldiers. This was an outstanding training opportunity that challenged every Soldier to grow as individuals and units daily."



Deployed Minnesota Guardsman honors grandfather, Hmong heritage

Posted: 2018-05-17  09:57 AM
Brandon Xiong CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - "My heritage is Hmong," said 21 year-old Minnesota National Guard Spec. Brandon Xiong from his desk at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. "A low-key culture that originated from southern Asia. Hmong is not a place, but it is a people."

Xiong, the eldest grandson of the late Col. Song Leng Xiong, is deployed in Kuwait as an information technician for Area Support Group - Kuwait.

"We were not nomadic, but have been in many different conflicts," said Xiong. "Many places I go, I am questioned about my nationality and when answered, end up being even more confused. There is a movie called, "Gran Torino", where Clint Eastwood is introduced to the Hmong culture and I think it portrays the Hmong people not so terribly."



Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.



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