BISMARCK, N.D. — The North Dakota National Guard currently has more than 2,000 Guardsmen on duty to fight rising floodwaters in the central part of the state.
Bismarck-Mandan is facing a new kind of flood, and the NDNG is responding with a new method of fighting it. Civil Military Assistance Teams, or CMATs for short, have spread throughout the community to help residents with the uncertainty and questions they’re dealing with as unprecedented flows are coming through Garrison Dam and headed their way along the Missouri River. It’s the first time the teams have been used as part of North Dakota Guard flood operations.
As the CMATs ramped up, fourteen teams consisting of 7-12 Guardsmen worked in Bismarck and Mandan areas that fall on the potentially “wet side” of protection efforts. Homeowners in those areas have been constructing their own flood protection with sandbags and trap bags. Guardsmen with the CMATs have been walking from house to house with information and updates.
“We have brochures to help them build dikes properly so they can hopefully withstand the water when it comes,” said Sgt. 1st Class Freddie Griffin, of Cavalier, N.D., the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of a CMAT working in the Hogue Island area. Soldiers on his team, which was activated Sunday afternoon, come from the Guard’s 134th Quartermaster Detachment in Cavalier and the 133rd Quartermaster Detachment in Grafton, N.D.
Besides providing information, the teams let residents know when and where sandbags would be hauled into their neighborhoods.
“Once we started talking to people, we were pretty well-received by everybody here,” Griffin said.
“The 957th Engineer Company (Multi-role) is bringing in all the sandbags and we’re making sure everyone gets in, in an orderly manner, and gets sandbags off of the truck here,” Griffin said as large flatbed trucks pulled into the Hogue neighborhood.
He was impressed with how the community had turned out to help, even bringing their own skid steer loaders to help move the pallets from the military trucks to pickups lined up to receive the sandbags.
“The community came out and helped a lot,” he said. “There have been some very helpful people that have come out.”
Spc. Micah Tweten, of Grand Forks, N.D., was one of the CMAT Soldiers at the pick-up point, serving on his first flood mission since joining the North Dakota National Guard three years ago.
“I’ve been helping out filling the sandbags and doing security, in a sense, so there’s not a free for all on the sandbags,” he said.
Residents were allowed to pick up one pallet at a time, but could turn around and get right back in line if they wanted more on their trip. The line was moving smoothly. As one truck from the 957th Engineers emptied, another was waiting nearby to pull up and provide more bags for the homeowners.
“It’s going really good,” said Sgt. Casey Bosch, of Grand Forks, one of the truck drivers hauling pallets of sandbags in as part of the 957th Engineer Company mission. “They’re really appreciative. They’re real thankful. They say nothing could be done without us.”
In addition to the CMATs and haul missions, North Dakota National Guard members are helping in Bismarck and Mandan at sandbag filling sites and in residential neighborhoods constructing levees. Traffic control points manned by Guardsmen are increasing safety and easing congestion as the operations continue.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks on America, the North Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,500 Soldiers and more than 1,800 Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Currently, about a dozen North Dakota Guardsmen are serving overseas while more than 4,000 remain in the state for emergency response and national defense. For every 10,000 citizens in North Dakota, 65 serve in the North Dakota National Guard, a rate that’s more than four times the national average.
High-resolution photos to accompany this release are available on Flickr: “Memorial Day Flood Ops”
Video to accompany this release can be viewed at Youtube