News: Cooperation guides transition from levee construction to oversight
Story by Spc. Manda Walters
FORT PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota National Guard is transitioning its flood response focus to cooperative oversight with civilian authorities while private contractors finish up levee construction on the Fort Pierre Missouri riverbank, June 5.
Some SDNG soldiers and airmen are being reassigned to tasks that better serve this shifting flood remediation effort.
Now tasked to the South Dakota Highway Patrol, the efficient movement of trucks that haul dirt to sandbagging sites in the community had been a primary task of the S.D. Air National Guard’s 114th Fighter Wing.
“The logistics of efficiently moving over 150 trucks, from fill sites on the northeast side of Fort Pierre to sandbagging sites around the communities - some transporting more than 3,000 loads of dirt daily - was a huge task”, said Nancy Ronnings, co-owner of Morris, Inc. in Fort Pierre. “The South Dakota National Guard made it happen so the sandbagging could beat the rising water levels.”
Most of the SDNG’s airmen serving on State-Active-Duty in the Pierre communities now walk the levees to identify breeches of integrity in the barrier.
In addition to maintaining levee security, the S.D. Army National Guard’s 147th Field Artillery personnel and equipment are in place to provide quick reaction forces for levee reinforcement, if needed.
“When our Quick Reaction Forces are called upon, we will have civilian authorities providing direction on how to repair the levees,” said Maj. Martin Yost, the SDNG’s Task Force 147 operations officer. “The National Guard is here to provide the manpower and equipment to perform those repairs throughout the Pierre and Fort Pierre communities.”
The projected one foot rise in water levels between now and Tuesday, has contractor crews working late into the night, and in spite of the transition to levee security and quick response force preparedness, sandbagging efforts continue as the water release from the Oahe Dam is scheduled to reache 150,000 cubic feet-per-second today.