For one Soldier in the North Dakota National Guard’s Area of Operations – West, the flood officially got personal on April 17 in the Minot area.
Sgt. Robert G. Duchsherer, of Minot, a Soldier in Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 164th Engineer Battalion and part of Area of Operations – West took to the air with nine other Soldiers in a North Dakota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to conduct a reconnaissance of the areas of Granville, Towner, Karlsruhe, Velva and Sawyer to get a better overview of what they might face if the task force is asked to assist in McHenry County.
Duchsherer participated in the flight over McHenry County, and was able to get a firsthand look of an area he knew well. He grew up there, but was astounded at what it looked like now, under an expansive cover of water. He had to fight back the emotions as he looked over the now-foreign site.
“I had no idea it had gotten this bad and was unaware that some of my longtime neighbors’ houses and farms were under water,” said Duchsherer, a self-employed farmer and heavy equipment operator from Minot. “I had talked to my grandmother, who still lives on the farmstead near Karlsruhe. She said the family sandbagged around the house, but it rose too high.”
The water that overcame the area is from the Mouse River that runs from Canada down through north central North Dakota and back into Canada. The river is expected to crest today at 9.4 feet. That doesn’t help downstream, however, where Duchsherer’s family farm is located.
The Soldiers on the survey mission observed many problems with the record winter snowfall runoff. Roads were underwater, washed out or simply gone. The railroad between Minot and Rugby is shut down due to tracks being unsafe for operation because the ground underneath is gone.
Despite all of the desperate landscape following the wake of the intrepid flood waters, it has not stopped the “can do” attitude of the residents of the McHenry County.
“The fact that they have not asked for the assistance from the National Guard shows how determined they are to fight this on their own,” Duchsherer said.
Should the need arise, the Guard is standing by to help and that was the reason behind the flight. The intelligence that was gathered will assist in planning for future missions.
“Just seeing the damage to roads in the county is amazing,” said Sgt. Aaron Schmidt. “I have seen the reports but seeing it firsthand was unbelievable.”
The county has numerous roads out of service due to the water. This has made travel hazardous for residents. The North Dakota National Guard has conducted one mission into the area consisting of hauling 10,000 sandbags to Karlsruhe.
A drive that should have taken 30 minutes in normal conditions took about an hour and a half through the flood-rampaged area.
Story by Sgt. Jonathan Haugen
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