185th Continues to Provide Support in Flood Relief Efforts

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Rich Murphy
  • 185th Public Affairs
While the Missouri river, which runs along the borders of Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska, continues to rise, the 185th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) in Sioux City, Iowa, continues to provide support to Iowans, South Dakotans, and Nebraskans.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the Missouri River is expected to crest by June 15th. Many of the residents along the river are already experiencing flooding and sections of I-29, a major interstate connecting Sioux City and Omaha, have been shut down due to the increased flooding.

The 185th has assembled a team of functional experts from various sections to monitor the conditions of the river. The team, lead by Lt. Col. Jerry Self, is working closely with the Joint Operations Center (JOC) at state headquarters to offer support at a moment's notice to community members.

Lt. Col. Self said, "We have been running through a variety of scenarios and preparing for emergency situations both on base and in the community. We have several teams of Guardsmen who are waiting to respond. We are prepared for nearly any scenario that may occur in the next few weeks."

In addition to the response team, the 185th is working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers to patrol the levees surrounding the Sioux City area. Lt. Col. Self said, "The Army Corps of Engineers has been training several of our men and women to monitor the levees. We will have people out there 24/7 looking for any potential problems and communicating that to the Corps so they can respond quickly."

Currently, the airbase at the 185th is relatively safe from the rising river levels. Civil Engineers assigned to the base have taken the appropriate precautions to protect equipment necessary to perform the missions of the 185th and the local Sioux City Airport.

Lt. Col. Self said, "This is what we are trained for. This is what we are here for. We are proud to help our community in any way we can."

While only a few Iowa Air National Guard members have been officially activated in response to the flood, many Guardsmen have volunteered their time to support the flood relief in their community.

Col. Brian Miller, Commander of the 185th Air Refueling Wing, said the 185th is prepared to respond whenever they are needed. "Our people have been working all week helping the community and doing whatever we can to help."

Earlier in the week, many Guardsmen filled and distributed sandbags for local residents. Many responded to the call for volunteers to sandbag in several areas along the river, including the construction of a new levee in Wynstone, SD.

The air base is also serving as a center for aerial operations for the flood relief, providing fuel to the helicopters that are supporting the relief efforts. Chief Warrant Officer Christian Frank, South Dakota's State Aviation Safety Officer for the Army, said, "The people here at the 185th have been great. We have received fantastic support from everyone on this base. The way we are working together makes the things we are able to do possible."

Col. Miller said, "Our community has been incredibly supportive of the 185th and its missions both home and abroad. We will do whatever is necessary to support our community and make sure everyone is safe."

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