News: Arkansas Guard flood missions continue, move to southeast Arkansas
ROBINSON MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ark. – As flood waters from the White and Mississippi Rivers increasingly consume areas along their banks the Arkansas National Guard continues to expand their operations in order to assist multiple counties in managing the impact to their residents.
In Woodruff County, along the flooded White River, small towns and farming communities are being affected by historic levels of water. Near Cotton Plant, members of the Arkansas Army National Guard's 77th Theater Aviation Brigade are assisting civil authorities with transporting and placing sandbags in affected areas.
As the Mississippi River crest flows southward, Arkansas communities on the west side are preparing for the worst. The Guard is also taking a proactive approach to flood response missions in the state by dispatching teams to areas along the Mississippi River, not yet experiencing disastrous flooding, in order to assist emergency response officials with coordination and planning measures. As part of this concerted effort, Arkansas National Guard Troops and equipment are being moved into Chicot County, near Lake Village, Ark.
Lt. Col. Greg Bacon, director of Military Support for the Arkansas Guard said, “The liaison teams are positioned with these county emergency coordinators to help ask the questions that will enable the local authorities to be much better prepared than they would be in an immediate emergency response situation.”
Bacon added that the flooding disaster is much different than most response missions in which the Guard assists local authorities in that they have time to prepare for this situation.
“By looking at the upstream trends and adding in the water data from the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers we can get ahead of what will happen in some of the downstream areas and assist officials to start looking at the many aspects that need to be considered in order to evacuate, protect or sustain their citizens. The only variable is – how bad will it actually turn out to be when it does hit each area,” said Bacon.
Approximately 70 soldiers are deploying to the Chicot County area Wednesday to assist in conducting levee patrols and other services as needed along the Mississippi. In order to support what is expected to be an extended mission there, the Arkansas Air National Guard is also deploying 30 airmen and a self-contained sheltering unit known as the Disaster Relief Bed-down System. The system is essentially a self-sustaining tent city that provides food service, latrine, shower, laundry support and sleeping quarters for up to 150 guardsmen.
Until today, the Arkansas Guard’s main effort with flood response support has centered in Prairie, Monroe and Woodruff counties, where over 300 soldiers and airmen have been assisting with evacuation efforts, security patrols, traffic management and deep water transit as flood waters in the White River top containment levees and threaten the communities of Cotton Plant, Patterson, Gregory and McClelland in Woodruff County.
In Prairie County the Guard’s efforts had 105 soldiers working to provide security and evacuation support in and around the community of Des Arc. The mission in Prairie County also included 20 soldiers assisting civil authorities with traffic control points to manage increased traffic following Friday’s complete closure of I-40 due to flooding. With Monday’s opening of the eastbound lanes of I-40, those 20 soldiers have been reassigned to other missions .
Around 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday the Guard also received a request to assist the small town of Payneway in Poinsette County near Marked Tree with sandbagging to protect several facilities there from rising waters. This mission was assigned to 20 soldiers from the 87th Troop Command. This marks the Arkansas Guard's 58th State Active Duty mission for fiscal year 2011.
In addition to the soldiers and airmen lending support throughout the state, approximately 350 Guard soldiers are deployed in support of operations overseas.
Date Posted:05.11.2011 09:23
Location:ROBINSON MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, AR, US
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