National Guard Defends Pembina From Flood
Two stories in this post.
Residents here, one of North Dakota’s oldest settlements “” are accustomed to the springtime ritual when the Red River ignores its banks, making life difficult.
To help the residents of Pembina this spring, about 12 Soldiers from the North Dakota National Guard’s 134th Quartermaster Detachment, out of Cavalier, N.D., are patrolling the city’s dikes around the clock, looking for problem spots. The Guard has been in town since Saturday.
Pembina residents volunteer their time, too, walking the dike lines every two hours, 24 hours a day, said Nancy R. Thompson, city auditor and flood coordinator. They also operate the “command center” based at the city’s community center.
“The Guard has helped relieve pressure from the local citizens,” Thompson said. “We are glad to see them here because a lot of the volunteers have jobs during the day.”
As of Monday, the National Weather Service was projecting the Red River at Pembina would crest at about 52.5 feet on Friday. It’s expected to remain in major flood stage for a week or longer.
In 2006, the Red River at Pembina reached 51.45 feet. For the most part, the river has been easily contained by the city’s flood-control project that was constructed after the massive 1997 flood.
The top of Pembina’s permanent dike is built to 57.3 feet. However, residents must remain vigilant well before that stage. Once the river reaches 48 feet, the townspeople begin a volunteer dike patrol. That effort started Friday here.
The recent cold weather has slowed the snow from melting and the river’s rise.
“The residents of Pembina have been showing us what to look for when walking the dikes,” said Spc. Crystal R. Anderson, of Kennedy, Minn., a Soldier with the 134th.
“Once we have a handle on things here, two Soldiers every two hours will patrol the dike,” added, Sgt. Brian I. Radway, of Grand Forks.
The 134th was alerted for state active duty on March 27, joining the flood fight in Fargo.
There are about 400 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen staged out of Grand Forks, prepared to fight flooding and monitor dike lines throughout the northern Red River Valley. Smaller groups of Guard members, such as those in Pembina, also are located in Drayton and Cavalier.
Guard Soldiers, such as Spc. Krista M. Dahl, have become old pros at monitoring dikes since floodwaters began to overwhelm the entire state in late March.
“I volunteered to help out in Fargo and then we were activated,” said Dahl, a native of Devils Lake, N.D. “I spent about two weeks walking dikes there and then we were sent here to help.”
Also, two 134th Soldiers have been monitoring a generator that runs an important sewer lift station in Pembina.
“Things are looking good here. We run the generator about a half an hour a day,” said Spc. Kurt A. Morton, of Cavalier. “When it’s not running we make sure it’s in good running condition in case of an emergency.”
Morton said the residents of Pembina have been extremely supportive and have taken care of the troops in their city. He couldn’t thank them enough.
Story by Sgt. 1st Class David Dodds
America’s southern border with Mexico is famous for its miles of barrier fences aimed at regulating access to the country.
The North Dakota National Guard has built a blockade of its own on the nation’s northern border, at the Canadian port-of-entry here. But, this time, instead of illegal aliens or the narcotics trade, Mother Nature is the target.
The swelling Red River is creeping within 300 feet of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Station. About 40 Soldiers from the 815th Engineer Company, based out of Edgeley, N.D., arrived on the scene Saturday and installed 3,600 feet of large modular baskets lined with a heavy-duty fabric that hold compacted sand.
These HESCO barriers now ring the Pembina border station, forming an island amid the river flooding. The Soldiers were prepared to install as much as 4,500 feet of the barriers, but arrived to find the job a little less extensive than anticipated. The barriers, manufactured by HESCO Inc., of Hammond, La., originally were designed for flood and hillside-erosion control, but they also proved effective in Iraq and Afghanistan as a shield against enemy fire.
HESCOs can be installed more quickly than a traditional sandbag levee.
1st Lt. Collin J. Kappenman, of Fargo, N.D., officer in charge of the mission, said “basically, we have brought the manpower and the knowledge to get this done.”
Three tractor-trailers were loaded with the HESCO barriers on pallets at the Grand Forks Armed Forced Reserve Center before they were sent north to the border. There, skid-steer loaders made quick work of unloading the cargo.
Soldiers set up the HESCOs as civilian contractors filled them with sand brought in from nearby Cavalier, N.D.
“Today, the Soldiers did exceptionally well, completing our mission and getting the HESCOs set up quickly,” said Capt. Trevor Y. Bakalar, commander of the 815th Engineer Company, as April 4 drew to a close.
The 815th is headquartered in Edgeley, and has detachments in Lisbon, Wishek and Jamestown, N.D.
The dike around the border station was built to protect up to 53 feet, said Jack F. Gerberding, a building manager with General Services Administration. The projected river crest near the border station could be between 52 and 54 feet. The HESCO barriers will add an additional four feet to the dike system, raising it to 57 feet, which “should give us enough freeboard,” he said.
The 815th will have teams poised to respond to any breach in the HESCO dikes that might develop.
“We will stay here until we have finished and then become a quick-reaction force,” said Sgt. 1st Class Sam T. Hansen, of Leeds, N.D, a member of the 815th. “From Grand Forks, we will also be able to respond to emergencies in Drayton, Cavalier and Pembina.”
Story by Sgt. 1st Class David Dodds
Table of contents for North Dakota Flooding 2009
- North Dakota Guard in Flood Fight
- 800 Guardsmen to Fight Flood in E North Dakota
- North Dakota Guard Joins Flood Relief
- Coast Guard Aids in North Dakota Flooding
- ND Guard Uses Iraqi War Skills to Fight Flood
- Sandbagging to Save Fargo
- Guard Working in Midwest Floods
- Current North Dakota Flood News
- Rescuing Rose – ND Guard Good News
- Morning News for Fargo Flooding
- Coast Guard Rescues in North Dakota
- Military Assistance to North Dakota Flooding
- Civil Air Patrol in Skies Over ND Flooding
- North Dakota Flood Operations Continues
- National Guard Defends Pembina From Flood
- Sheyenne River Nearing Crest in North Dakota
- HESCO Barriers – a Photo Primer
- Video of Coast Guard Flood Rescue Near Kindred
- Reinforcing the Cottonwood Creek Dam at Lake LaMoure
- Fighting the Flood in Southeast North Dakota
- Guardsmen Returning to Hometowns for Duty
- North Dakota Guard in Action During Flooding
- North Dakota Flooding Update: Cottonwood Creek Dam at Lake LaMoure
- A View From a Soldier Serving in LaMoure
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