BISMARCK, N.D. —For a third consecutive year, North Dakota Guardsmen responded in force to stave off rising waters throughout the state. Coordinating with local, state and federal agencies, Soldiers and Airmen were called upon to fight floods produced by an unprecedented 17 record river crests across North Dakota. On May 6, after 32 days of duty, the North Dakota National Guard ended its spring flood missions for 2011.
Drawing upon their experience in fighting floods in 2009 and 2010, North Dakota Guardsmen were able to assist communities from Cass County, up through the Red River Valley, and west to Ward County and the Valley City and Lisbon areas.
“Once again, the men and women of the North Dakota National Guard have done an outstanding job supporting the state’s spring flood fighting efforts,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. “Across the state, Guard members responded to whatever needed to be done to protect lives and property. Whether sandbagging, providing security, monitoring levees or performing rescues, our Soldiers and Airmen demonstrated yet again why they are the best National Guard in the nation.”
Soldiers and Airmen provided traffic control points, constructed levees, responded in quick reaction force (QRF) missions, patrolled dikes and performed aviation operations.
At the height of the flood fight, more than 600 Soldiers and Airmen volunteered and were activated to help their communities, with 1,486 individual Guardsmen serving at least one day of flood duty this spring. The scope of this year’s flood operations was more significant than last year’s, as well. The entire 2010 mission spanned 18 days with 4,900 individual workdays tallied. At the end of the 2011 flood mission, 9,786 individual workdays had been spent on flood operations this spring over the course of 32 days.
“Our flood response capabilities have been tested a number of times throughout the years,” said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general. “This spring showed that our force holds a wealth of experience in inter-agency emergency response operations. Our Airmen and Soldiers were key components to the flood-fighting effort administered by our local, state and federal agencies.”
The Governor’s Office, North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, North Dakota National Guard and other state and local agencies began planning for this year’s flood response as early as November 2010. On Feb. 10, Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued a statewide flood emergency declaration in preparation for potential spring flooding. On Feb. 25, the governor requested a federal flood declaration for the state of North Dakota under the Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance (Stafford) Act. President Barack Obama approved the request on May 11, which made available federal assistance to help communities across North Dakota with flood recovery.
“One of the advantages we had going into this year’s flood fight was the foresight of knowing that this year’s snow melt would dramatically affect river levels across the state,” said Lt. Col. Brent Naslund, North Dakota National Guard director of military support. “We were able to plan for an effective, robust response to react to any emergencies that might arise.”
Communities along the Red River began receiving a significant amount of Guard support April 5. In the days that followed, Soldiers and Airmen assisted in Pembina, Harwood, Drayton, Kindred, Fargo, north to Grand Forks and many other communities.
In mid-April, attention turned to the Valley City area where residents hurried to reinforce levees for a second crest of the Sheyenne River. Guardsmen and local contractors hauled nearly 400,000 sandbags from Fargo to support the mission.
Guardsmen conducting spring flood-fighting missions on the ground said that the communities provided generous support, most often in the form of warm food, baked goods and friendly conversation.
“I love this. This is the third year (of flood operations) for me,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Hebl, of Detachment 2, 815th Engineer Company (Horizontal), out of Lisbon, N.D., while assisting with flood operations in Valley City this year. “This flood fight is what the Guard’s all about — helping local communities. I think this is the best part about being in the Guard. It’s taking care of people that need us.”
2011 Spring Flood Operations By the Numbers
• 32 total days spent on spring flood operations in 2011 (April 5 through May 6)
• 9,786 workdays served by Guardsmen on spring flood operations
• 600 personnel, the most on duty during any given day of spring flood 2011 operations
• 1,486 individual Guardsmen served at least one day of flood duty this spring
• 47.9 hours flown in support of flood operations
o 23 missions in UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters
• More than 14 billion (yes, with a “B”) people in a combined potential audience of videos, stories and photos from the North Dakota National Guard that were distributed through DVIDS (Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System)
• 280,114 impressions on flood-related postings at facebook.com/NDNationalGuard
• 963,100 impressions on flood-related postings at twitter.com/NDNationalGuard
• 48,905 views of photos loaded to flickr.com/photos/NDGuard during of 2011 flood response operations
• 26,910 views of flood-related videos in the 2011 Flood Fight playlist at youtube.com
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.
For more information: 2011 Flood Fact Sheet (Final)
Related News Releases
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‘In It to Win It’ (April 25, 2011)
Easter Marked While on Duty for National Guardsmen (April 25, 2011)
Fighting the Flood from the Air (April 24, 2011)
Guardsmen Ready throughout Northern Red River Valley (April 22, 2011)
‘Ministry on the Fly’ (April 22, 2011)
National Guard Transitions Forces as Flood Operations Continue (April 22, 2011)
Vigilance Key in Rural Areas of Southeastern North Dakota (April 22, 2011)
Not Their First Rodeo (April 21, 2011)
Guardsmen Find Themselves on Other Side of Flood Mission (April 21, 2011)
One-Ton Sandbags Help in Lisbon’s Flood Fight (April 20, 2011)
New Mobile Tracking System Gets Real-World Trial During Flood (April 20, 2011)
Guardsmen Ready for Flood Mission Up North if Called Upon (April 19, 2011)
National Guard’s Best Engineers Helping in Valley City (April 19, 2011)
Task Force-West Commander Surveys Work in Valley City (April 17, 2011)
Governor and First Lady Visit Guardsmen Helping in Valley City (April 17, 2011)
Flood Fighters Warm Up with Hot Meals (April 17, 2011)
It Takes a Village to Fight a Flood (April 17, 2011)
Guardsmen Place Thousands of Extra Sandbags in Valley City (April 16, 2011)
Missions Ramp Up in Valley City as Baldhill Dam Increases Releases (April 16, 2011)
All Quiet on the Northern Front – For Now (April 16, 2011)
Ghanaians Get Up-Close Look at How North Dakota Guard Handles Flooding (April 15, 2011)
The Ultimate Classroom: Guard Soldier Turns Flood-Fighting Experience into College Credits (April 14, 2011)
Guard’s Quick Response Force Protects Kindred Home (April 14, 2011)
Guard Delivers 1,000-Pound Generator to Failing Pump Station (April 13, 2011)
Guard Begins Quick Reaction Force Mission in Valley City (April 13, 2011)
No Horsing Around When Sandbagging Home of Miss Rodeo ND (April 13, 2011)
Guard’s Quick Reaction Force Holds Back Maple River’s Move Toward Farm (April 12, 2011)
Guard Responds Quickly to All Jobs – Big and Small (April 11, 2011)
Liaison Officers Coordinate with County on National Guard’s Flood Response (April 11, 2011)
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State, Local Leaders Visit Guard’s Flood Operations (April 10, 2011)
Happy Hooligans Sandbag After Shift to Help Fellow Airmen (April 10, 2011)
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Combined Efforts Help Evacuate World War II Veteran from Flooded Home (April 9, 2011)
Guard Steps Up Tech in 2011 Flood Fight (April 9, 2011)
National Guard Forces Ready for Quick Responses in Richland County (April 6, 2011)
Guardsmen Begin Flood Duty in Fargo (April 5, 2011)
ND Guardsmen Prepared for Flood Response, with Additional Resources Ready through EMAC (March 30, 2011)
Guard Exercises Flood Response Plan (February 16, 2011)