The North Dakota National Guard’s Dickinson based 816th Horizontal Engineer Battalion has been acting as a 24-hour-a-day Quick Reactionary Force for rapid response to any levee leaks or breaches in the Minot and Burlington area.
Having a QRF available is an essential part of leading a successful flood fight. QRFs are accountable for responding in the event of a levee incident such as seepage or erosion. They have also been assisting the city and the Corps of Engineers in raising the levees as necessary to compensate for rising waters.
“The Quick Reaction Force exists to respond to any recognized problems with the levees,” said Master Sgt. Barry Trottier, a member of the 164th Engineer Battalion who works in the operations center. “Right now, the Souris River is at an increased flow rate, and it is lasting for an extended period.”
The 816th have been part of many missions since they began flood duty in Minot, to include a 36-hour operation behind the Dakota Rose Bed and Breakfast when they worked to raise and repair the levee.
“If they hadn’t raised that up, the water could have flooded into the city,” said Trottier.
They also assembled 1,500 feet of HESCO barriers in Burlington after the Corps of Engineers determined that the 6,000 sandbags they had laid the previous day would not be ample to compensate for the rising waters.
Most recently the 816th has been working with the city and the Corps to raise the levees throughout the area. The combined effort is to ensure that the levees are at an appropriate level to handle the increased flow rate.
Soldiers have mobilized on several missions to apply plastic to the levees to make them less susceptible to erosion from rain or swift currents.
“QRF is important, so if there are any issues, we’re ready,” said Spc. Brandon Stewart of the 816th Horizontal Engineer Battalion. “First thing every morning, we check our equipment so we’re ready to go.”
Stewart said that a lot of what he has been doing has involved preventative maintenance such as repairing and raising levees and sandbagging around trouble areas.
“We’re trying to make sure everything is up to standard,” said Stewart.
Stewart, who is from Fargo, finished with advanced individual training in April so this is his first flood fight. “At the time, it’s hard work, and it’s stressful being away from home,” said Stewart. “But there is a lot of job satisfaction and people are very thankful when we help rescue their homes.”
Thus far in the Ward County area, the QRF has responded to about five events that required immediate response, which addressed issues that require immediate assistance. In the last 96 hours they have assisted in 8 planned missions that assisted the city and Corps to raise levels and apply poly.
“The National Guard will be here until the city and Corps is comfortable with the flow rate in Minot,” said Trottier.
Posts Tagged ‘Hesco barriers’
Soldiers of the Louisiana National Guard’s 2225th Multi-Role Bridge Company, 205th Engineer Battalion, have been performing transport duties off the coast of Louisiana near Grand Isle, La., and the Grand Terre Islands to assist civilian workers with the oil clean-up effort along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast.
For the past two weeks, the 25-member team has been using portions of an improved ribbon bridge to make a five-panel raft with ramps on each end to transport civilian personnel, equipment and oil-containment materials to and from areas along Grand Isle and the Grand Terre Islands.
“We usually haul civilians and oil-containment items, but at any given time we can be asked to transport equipment and other heavy items,” said Sgt. 1st Class Maris M. Pichon, of the 2225th.
The civilian contractors use the raft as a means of transportation for themselves and as a way to transport equipment and oil-contaminated boom to the decontamination site in Grand Isle.
The panel raft’s ability to push onshore and lay down its ramps without the need for a dock makes it the preferred method of transportation for the contractors loading and unloading equipment. The nearly 100-foot long platform can haul upwards of 80 tons of cargo and is pulled with two bridge erection boats.
“Unlike the shrimping boats that we were using, the raft can actually dock onshore and the ramps make it easier to load and offload personnel and equipment,” said Pablo Hernandez, a contractor working in Grand Isle. “We are appreciative of the Guardsmen helping us out.”
The Soldiers can use the improved ribbon bridge in several different ways, depending on what the mission requires.
“This is what we train to do,” said 1st Sgt. Kevin M. Giroir, the 2225th’s senior enlisted advisor. “A part of our unit’s mission is to get equipment and personnel across bodies of water and we are always prepared to make it happen.”
Story by Sgt. Michael Owens
Despite adverse weather brought in by Hurricane Alex earlier this week, Louisiana National Guard soldiers from the 225th Engineer Brigade continue to emplace and repair Hesco barriers along the coast in Cameron Parish, La.
The crew finished a two-and-a-half mile stretch of protective wall along the lowest portions of Highway 82 between the Cameron ferry and Holly Beach just 24 hours before Hurricane Alex hit the Gulf Coast.
“Every time the tide rises more than two feet above normal, it pushes water out over this highway. If these barriers wouldn’t have been in place, we would have had to close the street, wait for the floodwater to go down and then clean up all the debris,” said Clifton Hebert, director of the Cameron Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. “Thanks to the National Guard, the water never touched the road.”
Although the barriers were not emplaced to ward off high tides brought in by hurricanes, Hebert said he was reassured after seeing their reaction to Alex that they will hold up well under normal conditions.
Capt. Ingram M. Scott, logistics officer for the 769th Engineer Battalion, 225th Eng. Bde., is overseeing the Cameron Parish project and said despite the hurricane, their efforts have not slowed on the coast. He said they will take the lessons learned and use them to prepare for similar weather in the future.
“We’ve learned when the Hesco baskets are closer to the water, they don’t withstand the tide as well,” Scott said. “We are now building a second wall to act as a reinforcement barrier behind the sections most damaged by the hurricane, and we plan to build the walls farther from the coastline in the future.”
Scott says his Soldiers are motivated and morale remains high. His crew plans to continue working 12-hour days until their project is complete.
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Sara Piazza
Members of the 527th and 769th Engineer Battalions of the Louisiana National Guard began constructing a barrier wall, May 21, along the coast of Port Fourchon, La., in an effort to keep oil-tainted water from reaching Bay Champagne, a coastal lake critical to Louisiana’s fishing industry.
“The units arrived around 7 a.m., and we immediately began doing everything we could to get this project started,” said Capt. Jeffrey L. Giering of Watson, La., commander of the 928th Sapper Company. “Just like every other project, we want to work hard and fast to get this done for Louisiana.”
“This project is extremely important because these waters have several different purposes,” said Tim Osborn of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “We really appreciate the Guard’s work and efforts out here.”
The wall will consist of about 1,000 Hesco Concertainer units that will be constructed along two miles of shoreline. These units are multi-cellular wall systems, composed of linked Hesco baskets, which are manufactured from welded coated steel wire mesh.
Each five-basket unit will be joined together with vertical coil joints, and then the entire wall will be filled with approximately 7,500 cubic yards of sand. Project engineers predict that the wall will take a few days to complete.
“These units are being used because they have been proven durable in many situations,” said Dennis Barkemeyer, a senior technical representative with Hesco.
“We’ve been all over the coast participating in missions,” said Spc. Timothy Avant of West Monroe, La., a heavy equipment operator. “We are just happy to be working and doing something that will be a great help to our state.”
Story by Sgt. Michael Owens
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