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Monday, March 30, 2009

CAP working in North Dakota

From a Civil Air Patrol release. CAP is headquartered at Maxwell:

Citizen volunteers from Civil Air Patrol’s North Dakota and Minnesota wings are stepping forward to serve as flooding from the Red River threatens communities in both states.

CAP members are filling and stacking hundreds of thousands of sandbags near the civic center in Fargo, N.D., as well as outside a radio station in the city. CAP aircrews also are making damage assessment flights, as weather permits, to help protect critical infrastructure.

North Dakota
and Minnesota have been hit with multiple weather emergencies in recent days as flooding persists along the Red River and its tributaries. A severe blizzard blew through most of the region earlier this week, blanketing the ground with thick heavy snow. Power lines are down in western North Dakota and a massive ice jam has blocked the Missouri River south of Bismarck, N.D., causing the evacuation of residents. Ice jams have caused several other smaller evacuations.

Much of the Fargo, N.D.-Moorhead, Minn., metropolitan area has become an island with the closing of most roads in and out of area communities due to flooding and snowdrifts.

Over the past three days, more than 150 Civil Air Patrol members from the North Dakota and Minnesota wings have participated in sandbagging operations as well as limited damage assessment flights for local emergency managers.

Operations began on Monday with teams from both wings sandbagging at various locations in the Fargo area, such as the Fargo Dome, where members assisted with filling thousands of sandbags an hour.

CAP members also assisted radio station KFGO in Fargo. Four teams of members assisted local residents with sandbagging operations that helped protect this critical emergency communications point for the community. The station is still up and broadcasting.

“It is inspiring to see the volunteer spirit and sense of mission in the midst of this emergency,” said Col. Karl Altenburg, commander of the North Dakota Wing. “All personnel, especially the cadets, continue to impress the community with their willingness and ability to serve.”

The mission base remained open throughout Tuesday evening with North Dakota Wing Lt. Col. Michael Provencher serving as incident commander and Maj. Donald Dalton from Minnesota Wing’s Red Wing Squadron serving as ground branch director.

Despite the snow and wind, 75 Civil Air Patrol volunteers arrived at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning and were rapidly dispatched to sites around the area. Many members helped build dikes by stacking sandbags along the Red River south of Fargo.

Although sore from lifting and moving heavy sandbags, enthusiasm for the mission was very high among the CAP volunteers. The Red Cross brought food and water and offered additional support as needed.

Air operations branch director, North Dakota Wing Col. Walt Vollmers, plans to launch flight crews from Fargo and Grand Forks as soon as weather permits. The air crews will be tasked with taking damage assessment photography of communities along the Red River and the rising lakes in northeast North Dakota.

CAP members are also assisting with disaster relief operations near Crookston, Minn.

Civil Air Patrol is maintaining a Web site that notes communication to members and digital images of its efforts at


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I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 

As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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