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National Guard to Protect Water Supply

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  • National Guard to Protect Water Supply

    The National Guard's Mission on Saturday in Pierre and Fort Pierre was to fill sandbags but Sunday their mission turned to protecting the water supply and is busy building barriers around several water wells near the river's edge.

    "We're working around the clock right now and this is the day shift, we've got about 5 mote wells to secure and then the night shift will roll in and follow up," says Captain Dave Larson.

    Right now the main goal is keeping water and sewer lines clear to ensure that homeowners still staying in the area aren't forced out.

    There are more than 300 soldiers working on flood operations in the Pierre area and 60 more soldiers were called in Sunday.

    We also received this press release from the National Guard earlier Sunday:

    South Dakota continues to call on their Army and Air National Guardsmen to help prepare residents of its capital city for flooding from the Missouri River.

    The National Guard has 328 Soldiers currently working flooding operations in and around the Pierre/Fort Pierre area with an additional 64, from the 147th Field Artillery and 842nd Engineer Company, scheduled to arrive today.

    Monday, they are scheduled to mobilize another 220, 200 of which will be Air Guardsmen from the 114th Fighter Wing and another 20 Army Guardsmen from the 147th.

    "We've done an excellent job getting a hold of our Soldiers and Airmen," said Major General Timothy Reisch, adjutant general for the South Dakota National Guard. "Approximately six hours after we had been tasked to alert our forces, we successfully contacted 2,748 Guardsmen, in addition to the forces we have on the ground here today. By the end of the day tomorrow, we will have more than 600 Guardsmen supporting their fellow community members."

    "Over the last 24 hours, we've completed and reinforced four well houses," said Lt. Col. Aaron Jordan, liaison officer between the South Dakota National Guard and the state Emergency Operation Center. "Late afternoon yesterday, we were tasked with seven additional well houses that we're working on reinforcing today."

    Once that is complete, Guardsmen will move onto the wastewater treatment plant in Pierre and begin reinforcing that.

    "The next big mission on the docket for us is building a levee in and around the area of the Ramkota to protect that whole area north of the bridge," said Jordan. "We're bringing our engineers and working with the Corps of Engineers on getting the placement and the plan in place so when we have our materials we can get right to work."

    Plans are also being developed for security operations, primarily with levee patrols and traffic control missions that the National Guard may be receiving.

    Flood operations will impact some Guard units' upcoming annual training or weekend drills but supporting the state during an emergency is one of their core missions.

    "We'll remain flexible," Reisch said. "We'll guard our units in their final preparations for federal deployments so their training isn't impacted, but in terms of units not preparing for a mobilization, we have the flexibility to adjust training as needed."