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Friday, March 25, 2011

South Dakota National Guard mobilizes for flooding

Posted: Mar 23, 2011 2:33 PM EDTUpdated: Mar 23, 2011 2:33 PM EDT

South Dakota National Guard continues to prepare for flooding

With flood warnings in effect for the James, Vermillion and Big Sioux Rivers south of Highway 14, the South Dakota National Guard continues to prepare to alert and mobilize appropriate military forces with the necessary resources to support local authorities to minimize the impacts of flooding.

Leadership from both the Army and Air National Guard continue to coordinate efforts and prepare to assist with the protection of life, property, and the reestablishment of necessary services.
Governor Dennis Daugaard ordered the State Emergency Operations Center in Pierre opened March 22, at 7 a.m. in preparation for widespread spring flooding in South Dakota.  The EOC will coordinate any necessary mobilization of National Guard members and equipment.
Activation of the EOC brings into one location representatives from state and federal agencies and other groups whose resources or technical expertise might be needed as South Dakota responds to flooding.
“The EOC structure assures a coordinated and cooperative response to disasters, as well consistent and uniform communications among agencies and citizens,” Gov. Daugaard said. “Many rivers and streams are overflowing, and there could be record flooding in some places.
It’s important to have a coordinated response to requests for resources in areas that need them the most.”
Currently the National Guard has personnel integrated in to the State EOC to ensure a quick response to missions requiring Guard personnel and equipment.
National Guard leadership has spent most of March planning for and positioning equipment to respond as soon as they are asked to.
“For the last two weeks, the number one priority in the National Guard has been preparing to support the state with various flood support missions,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Jordan, Director of Military Support at the SDNG Joint Operations Center.  “We’ve pre-positioned engineer and hauling equipment at strategic locations to enhance response time in assisting with flood mitigation efforts.  Additionally, communication equipment has been located in areas to enhance the Guard’s command and control as well as to assist locals with potential shortfalls.”
The National Guard pre-positioned a variety of equipment, including 20-ton dump trucks, HEMMT wreckers, dozers, loaders and rafts in Watertown, Sioux Falls, Aberdeen and Sturgis.
On Friday, eight Soldiers were activated to assist with hauling 3,500 sandbags to reinforce lift stations at Lake Kampeska, near Watertown.
Not only has the National Guard been preparing to support the state and protect South Dakotans and their property, but they continue to prepare and protect their own equipment and facilities.
“As we have prepared to support the state, we have also taken actions to protect some of our own facilities from possible flooding” said Jordan.  “A key task was to establish communications at an alternate site to manage Guard operations in case our facility was compromised.  Additionally, we established barriers to direct flooding water around our facility, and moved critical equipment to an off-site location to ensure access for state support missions.”
According to the National Weather Service, the James River and the Big Sioux River are flowing at major flood-stage levels in some areas of South Dakota.  State and local emergency managers, along with several federal agencies, have been assessing the flood risk and making preparations for it since last fall.
Ice jams on rivers and streams are contributing to rising water levels in some areas, and rain and snow forecast for the coming week is likely to increase runoff into lakes and rivers.
– From a National Guard news release

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