News: Corps of Engineers reaches milestone in Ward County, North Dakota
MINOT, N.D. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, reached a major milestone in Ward County, N.D., Oct. 22, with the completion of a debris removal mission following devastating flooding that occurred there this past summer.
After nearly 100 days of work, the debris team is heading home. Led first by mission manager Lamar Jenkins, then by mission manager Barry Sullivan, both from the Vicksburg District, the team was assigned the jobs of removing debris from flooded homes and temporary emergency levees built during the 2011 spring flood fight within the Souris River Basin.
Sullivan, who normally works as the supervisor of the locks and dams and navigation for the Ouachita and Red rivers in Louisiana, said he knew the job would be challenging when he arrived. “We had quite a large amount of debris within [Ward County],” said Sullivan. “There was so much damage due to the flooding – in both the basements and the houses.”
With the Corps’ job of removing housing debris complete as of Sept. 26, Sullivan said the team removed more than 62,000 tons of debris, or enough debris to roughly fill a football field 10 stories high.
As the debris piled up, so did Sullivan’s emotions. He said you can’t help but sympathize with the people affected by the flood. “Basically, everything they have ever accumulated was piled on the curb, waiting for us to haul it off.”
Despite the constant visual reminder of flood damage throughout Minot, N.D., and surrounding areas, Sullivan said he’s been very impressed with the resilience of the people in North Dakota. That resilience includes yellow signs popping up around town that say ‘I’m coming back’ and the most recent signs ‘I’m back.’
Looking back at the entire mission, Sullivan said he’s been overwhelmed by the support the team received. He said it was also extended to the temporary levee removal, which allowed residents to begin the rebuilding process.
Sullivan said it was obvious a flood fight had occurred when he first drove into Minot from the airport. “You had earthen-dikes 20 feet tall, and they went between houses and up against bridge abutments, all along the roads,” he said. “It was fairly impressive to see the fight that was put up.”
With the clay no longer needed to hold back water, levee removal job began in earnest early August. The team removed all the temporary emergency levees along the Souris River from Burlington, N.D., to Velva, N.D., built during the 2011 flood fight. The majority of this work was completed by the end of September, but an additional contract was awarded Sept. 29 to remove remaining temporary levees in Minot that the city originally did not want removed until floodwaters receded. The last remaining levees were removed Oct. 22.
Sullivan said his team goal for the levee removal job was to ensure no additional damage was created from the heavy equipment used to haul the clay back to the locations it was originally pulled from for the flood fight. “We’ve been able to [accomplish] our goal,” he said. “We had good working relationships with our contractors, the local governments and all the other federal agencies, and it took that collaborative effort to make this mission work.”
This is Sullivan’s fourth debris mission. He said each disaster is different, but they all have a massive affect on the people. “We never understand until a disaster has happened in our area or you have worked on one how much of an affect it has on the communities and the individuals,” said Sullivan. “You see it on the news, but until you have been on the ground and seen the devastation that occurs, it is really hard to grasp what this means to the community.”
Date Posted:10.24.2011 19:36
Location:MINOT, ND, US
- First tow breaks through Lake Pepin, heading toward St. Paul
- Headwaters reservoirs: Water management provides flood risk reduction, recreation
- Seamoor, the water safety sea serpent, park rangers talk water safety
- A tree today, wildlife habitat tomorrow