News: Missouri Guardsmen assist communities with flood response
Story by Airman 1st Class Nathan Dampf
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – Missouri Guardsman are busy supporting traffic control points and other missions in support of local authorities in central Missouri after they were mobilized by Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday to assist residents with flood response efforts.
There are 50 military police on duty and additional Soldiers assigned as county liaison officers and manning the Missouri National Guard’s tactical operations center established in the area, totaling approximately 80 citizen-soldiers helping in the region. Guardsmen from the 35th Engineer Brigade and the 1138th Military Police Company assisted local emergency personnel during evacuations and redirected motorists at flooded roads and bridges at traffic control points.
“Missouri’s Guardsmen have been influential in helping their Missouri neighbors,” said Brig. Gen. David Newman, joint chief of staff of the Missouri National Guard. “I am proud of our team of citizen-soldiers who have worked hand-in-hand with local leaders and emergency personnel to accomplish the mission set out by Gov. Nixon.”
The operation was spearheaded by Guardsmen working out of Fort Leonard Wood and military police soldiers. According to Lt. Col. William McKinney, the task force commander, more than 60 homes have been destroyed and 120 damaged or affected by the flooding. Additionally, local safety personnel have responded to more than 295 calls for service and assisted in more than 60 live rescues, said McKinney.
“Our military police are highly-trained and working well with local authorities, including Waynesville Police Chief Robert Carter and Pulaski County Sheriff Ron Long,” said McKinney. “In our first operational day, we established great communication with the emergency management departments and emergency operations centers. Our Guardsmen have been very successful.”
To discuss the operation, Nixon held a round table meeting with city and county leaders at the Waynesville City Hall. He was joined by Newman, Andrea Spillars, deputy director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith, base commander of Fort Leonard Wood, and members of the Missouri Highway Patrol.
After the meeting, Waynesville Mayor Luge Hardman escorted Nixon to view some of the damage around the city hall building. Hardman said homes, a mobile home park and low-income rental properties were damaged by the rise of Mitchell Creek and the Roubidoux River that runs behind the city hall building. Hardman thanked Nixon for the quick response of state resources, including the Missouri National Guard.
“They responded very quickly,” said Hardman. “They have been a wonderful addition. We are thrilled with the partnership. We appreciate them greatly.”