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Air, Army National Guard battle floods in Iowa

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Patrick Brown
  • Air Force News Agency
DES MOINES, Iowa (AFPN) -- More than 2,500 Air and Army National Guardsmen are teaming with agencies from across the state to battle what has been called the 500-year flood in Central and South Iowa in mid June.

More than 1,000 guardsmen are expected to arrive in areas from Cedar Rapids to Iowa City June 15 to augment the existing team as flood waters are heading south.

Senior Master Sgt. Angie Vos, who works full time as human resource specialist with the Iowa Air National Guard, is one of a handful of augmentees at the Emergency Operations Center in the basement level of the Iowa National Guard headquarters at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa. The EOC here sits more than 100 coordinators gathered from agencies ranging from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the Iowa Highway Patrol arranged in a descending semicircle, facing three massive screens streaming news and data.

"Our mission is to provide as much assistance as fast as possible," Sergeant Vos said. "This is a massive operation."

Sergeant Vos is one of a few who coordinates efforts for the entire National Guard effort in Iowa, which assists in nearly every facet of the statewide operations from filling and placing sandbags in areas expected to flood, to assisting in evacuation efforts and teaming with the Iowa Highway Patrol to provide security for already evacuated towns.

The guardsmen have been crucial in performing their mission, said Capt. Mike Winter of the Iowa State Patrol.

"As the highway patrol, we're pretty much the 'first responders' but we just don't have the manpower to sustain without the (National) Guard's help," he said. "They have played a major role in our operations here."

The captain said he has coordinated to have two guardsmen to accompany each patrolman in Cedar Rapids June 15 to assist with check points and patrols as flood waters have reached 7 feet above flood levels June 14 and are beginning to recede.

Air and Army National Guard members will move ahead of and follow the flood waters as it moves south and inundates many of the communities that lay in its devastating path, Sergeant Vos said.

"We're here to do everything we can for the state of Iowa and its residents," the sergeant said. "This is home for many of us."