Iowa National Guard assists in debris removal

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tylon Chapman
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing

Debris cleanup efforts over the weekend in Sioux Rapids, Iowa surged as Iowa Air National Guard members converged on the small town to alleviate the effects of the historic flooding in June. 

Local residents expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the Guard members. 

Eric Boge, a local high school teacher, said he was thankful that the Guard came to help. 

“That actually brought tears to my eyes,” said Boge, “It's been helpful and a fast process with all you guys and many hands.” 

The Iowa Air Guard members from Sioux City’s 185th Air Refueling Wing and Des Moines’ 132nd Wing sent 30 Airmen to Sioux Rapids. 

Iowa ANG Airman are working in affected areas of Woodbury, Cherokee, Ida, and Buena Vista counties in Western Iowa. 

National Guard Airmen are working in conjunction with local civil authorities to ensure the safety of the public by cordoning off streets as the Airmen operate their vehicles and equipment. 

Early in the morning on June 22, several rainstorms caused widespread flooding that have struck multiple communities throughout Northwest Iowa.  

In Sioux Rapids, the overflowing of the Little Sioux River caused the devastation, damaging many residences and businesses. 

After the rains stopped, residents immediately began gathering debris and flood-damaged property to their curbs. 

Airmen then load it aboard dump trucks so residents can attempt to return to living in their homes. 

“It’s extremely sad seeing all these peoples’ homes and valuables just destroyed,” said Staff Sgt. Seth Stamm, a 185th Air Refueling Wing Power Production specialist, “But helping clean-up is all we can do.” 

Residents are faced with the prospect of cleaning up debris including basement carpet, drywall, furniture, and other household contents. The flood damaged debris can present public health concerns. 

The Air Guard’s state mission has units ready to deploy Debris Removal Teams with specialized personnel and tools to assist debris clean-up. 

Their equipment includes chain saws, skid steer loaders, dump trucks, and other vehicles. 

Airmen taking part in this mission primarily come from their unit’s Civil Engineering Squadrons. 

VIDEO | 06:42 | Iowa National Guard assists in debris removal

The volunteer Guard team is expected to be on duty through the Independence holiday week and even the holiday if necessary to assist with recovery efforts. 

Maj. Daniel Ress, the 185th Air Refueling Wing’s Deputy Base Civil Engineer, said the unit had no issue getting volunteers for the cleanup. 

“They put their plans for the weekend aside. Maybe even their plans for the holiday aside to come out and help and be here for this community,” he said. 

Air National Guard DRTs were used as recently as 2020 in Cedar Rapids when they were called in the wake of the derecho windstorm.

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