FARGO, N.D., April 29, 2013 - As the North Dakota National Guard begins its second week supporting flood-response efforts here, the number of soldiers and airmen on duty increased briefly today as missions shifted from traffic control to quick-reaction forces for flood emergencies.
Guard members have been supporting Fargo since April 22. The teams of soldiers from the 191st Military Police Company have provided as many as 15 traffic control points at a time during around-the-clock operations to facilitate movement of trucks hauling clay and sandbags for levee construction.
"Our soldiers did extremely well over the past week of service here," said Army Capt. Ryan Boom, 191st Military Police Company commander. "We really didn't see as much stress as we have in the past, and we responded with a great deal of knowledge from the previous fights, which helped us take off in stride in order to accomplish the mission and assist the Fargo [Police Department] with the traffic control.
More than 70 Guard members were on duty last week, with a dip to about 40 over the weekend across six traffic control points as the city finished buttoning up areas needing protection. The need for Guard support for traffic control is expected to end late today, officials said.
As the Guard's military police wrap up their flood support, members of the 815th Engineer Company are joining the mission. The engineers are forming a quick-reaction force team that will respond to emergency flood-related needs in Cass County.
The team reported at 7 a.m. today and is ready 24 hours a day in West Fargo with 5-ton dump trucks loaded with sandbags and three high-wheeled light medium tactical vehicles, or LMTVs, for evacuation. One LMTV is pulling a skid steer loader, and the team also is using a Humvee with a Blue Force Tracker, a GPS-enabled device used for precise location and communication.
"In past flood operations, the [quick-response force] teams have been instrumental in saving homes and protecting families and livestock," said Army Maj. Gen. David A. Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. "We're thankful that lower crest predictions will lessen the burden on many of our neighbors, but the Guard remains ready to support the county should there be overland flooding emergencies, as we've seen come up quickly many times in the past several years."
Since 2009, the North Dakota National Guard has contributed more than 125,000 duty days to flood operations in the state.
That military support effort is again being enhanced by the U.S. Coast Guard. A pararescue helicopter arrived yesterday at the North Dakota Air National Guard base in Fargo and will be on standby for search and rescue missions.
The Guard continues to coordinate with city and county agencies and the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services to monitor areas across the state that may be impacted by flooding as well as wildfires, officials said