As flood waters swept through southeastern Minnesota, National Guard Soldiers were woken up with a 3 am call to mobilize and support flood relief efforts.
The Minnesota National Guard's 34th Military Police Company was sent to the area in and around Winona, Minn, the 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery was sent to the area in and around Caledonia and the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade was tasked with the mission of being the eye-in-the-sky to survey the heavily damaged counties and search for stranded citizens.
"This is an important mission,"said Spc. Joel Ehrenberg "This is a good mission. This is what I joined the Guard for: to help my community and my state. I lot of people say "˜thanks' and it we know it's well worth it."
Within a matter of hours of being alerted, the troops deployed to the area to set up traffic control points and immediately began going door-to-door to homes to make sure everyone was ok.
In some cases, including that of Bonnie and Roger Oldham, houses were completely knocked off their foundation and carried a distance by raging flood waters. In those cases, Minnesota National Guard Soldiers assisted citizens with salvaging what was left by flood waters. At the Oldham residence just outside of Winona, Minn., Staff Sgt. John Indrehus, Pfc. Mike Ramos and Pfc. Mark Limberg, 34th Military Police Company even rescued the Oldham's cat, Silvester, who was trapped in the bedroom.
While 34th MP Soldiers were maintaining the area around Winona, 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery Soldiers were working with local law enforcement agencies to contain and manage the area around Caledonia. The near city of Money Creek, which saw some of the worst and most immediate flooding, was hosting a motorcycle gathering at a park when the flood waters hit. The majority of the bikes were destroyed by the floods, and the road leading into the park was all but washed away. At Money Creek, the Traffic Control Point set up by Minnesota National Guard Soldiers prevented citizens from re-entering a potentially fatal situation.
As the missions on the ground continued, the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade supported through the air, flying UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to look for targets of life-saving opportunity and to give legislators, including Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty a tour of the damaged area.
As flood relief operations continue, Soldiers have proven that they are always ready and always there to support the community and the state. They will remain in southeastern Minnesota until they are no longer needed. When they get home, they will return to their civilian lives, but will have contributed to the safety and security of their fellow Minnesotans.
By Cpl. Joe Roos, Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
Aug. 21, 2007