The flood fight is on again in North Dakota and Minnesota, Civil Air Patrol officials report.
About 75 members of the Minnesota Wing of the Civil Air Patrol are on the ground in the Fargo, N.D. and Moorhead, Minn., area filling sandbags and building dikes in areas threatened by the rising Red River.
“We’ve been checking and packing our gear and finalizing our call-down list for the past week in anticipation of getting the call,” said 1st Lt. Steven Parker, the St. Cloud Composite Squadron’s emergency services officer. Parker, a former CAP cadet, is a full-time student at St. Cloud State University who will be commissioned as a U.S. Marine Corps second lieutenant in May.
Twelve cadets and two senior officers departed St. Cloud Regional Airport Tuesday evening, March 16, for the three-hour trip to the Fargo/Moorhead area. The St. Cloud squadron was immediately put to work south of Moorhead with CAP members from the Minnesota Wing’s Anoka and North Hennepin squadrons laying sandbags in flood prone areas.
“This is a situation where a community is in need of our support,” Parker said. “We’re here to help in any way we can.”
The ride to the site and a quick reconnaissance of the area told CAP members all they needed to know about what they’re facing.
“Waterways running high and the saturated ground have created ideal conditions for flooding,” Parker said. “We’re going to be busy.”
Minnesota’s Hutchinson, Red Wing, St. Croix, Mankato and St. Paul squadrons have similar missions at other locations. Other squadrons are in route. Several senior officers and cadets are working at the mission base at Fargo’s Hector International Airport.
Weather conditions brought both relief and concern to Parker. “The weather is ideal for working outside, sunny and in the ’50s, a far cry from the blizzard conditions we experienced during last year’s flood,” he said.
Ice jams on the Red River north of Fargo have slowed the rushing waters, but the warmer temperatures and sunshine will hasten their melt.
“That concerns everyone here,” Parker said. “We’re watching. It’s all we can do.”
Maj. Paul Pieper, Minnesota Wing’s emergency services director, said Minnesota air crews are standing by to assist. “We just finished up a series of training missions in anticipation of supporting disaster relief efforts in the Red River Valley, as well as other areas of Minnesota threatened with flooding.”
“The flood fight is on again in North Dakota and Minnesota,” Pieper said. “It’s go time.”
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 59,000 members nationwide. CAP performs 90% of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 72 lives in fiscal year 2009. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the more than 24,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for 68 years. For more information: GoCivilAirPatrol.com.