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    When disaster hit, the National Guard was there to help



    Story by Staff Sgt. Maria Ruiz 

    184th Wing

    MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. - Approximately 75 civil engineers from the Kansas Army and Air National Guard deployed Oct. 16-29 to Colorado.

    The deployment aided the Colorado National Guard’s reconstruction of U.S. Highway 36 between Lyons and Estes Park after Sept. 12 floods cut off residents in the smaller, rural communities who live along the 25-mile stretch.

    The assistance to Colorado was arranged by the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, a division of the Adjutant General’s Department, through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. EMAC is a multistate, mutual aid agreement that facilitates interstate assistance in response and recovery operations during disasters.

    More than 375 Army and Air National Guard members from Colorado, Utah, Montana and Kansas worked to rebuild the highway. The Guard units finished a month earlier than projected.

    “For many of our airmen, this was the first deployment with Army and Air Force working side-by-side,” stated Chief Master Sgt. Lee Buttel, 184th Civil Engineer Squadron chief enlisted manager and a Joint Task Force Kansas platoon senior enlisted leader. “We weren’t Air, we weren’t Army, we were Joint Task Force Kansas. It was a good learning opportunity for everyone.”

    Kansas Army and Air National Guard units deployed together as a single unit, with soldiers and airmen working alongside each other under a multi-branched leadership team. The JTF worked sunrise to sunset, seven days a week to repair the highway.

    “Our training here prepared us to operate heavy equipment and perform our duty during disaster relief operations,” said Airman 1st Class Colton McFerrin, 184th CES heavy equipment operator. “It was a privilege for me to be there. This is what I signed up to do.”

    The Colorado National Guard provided the heavy equipment during the operation which included dozers, graders, loaders, backhoes and excavators to rebuild the roads for commuting access.

    Work included building road surfaces, removing debris, which included cars, trees and massive boulders, filling land areas washed away by the water, and installing culverts. The JTF National Guard worked 20,414 man hours, placed 320 feet of culvert and hauled 34,200 cubic yards of fill material.

    More than 1,000 people from the affected communities honored the Guard teams at a recognition event before Guard members returned home.

    “There wasn’t a dry eye in house. We were able to help rebuild. It was fulfilling to see the completed project and see the faces of those we helped,” said Tech. Sgt. Karey Haukom, 184th CES waste-fuel system technician.

    “You’ve given us a road to recovery and a road to hope. Colorado is in your debt,” said Roxane White, chief of staff to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, at the event.



    Date Taken: 01.03.2014
    Date Posted: 03.02.2014 14:39
    Story ID: 121383

    Web Views: 62
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