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Missouri National Guard conducts anti-flood operations in Cooper County

WOOLDRIDGE, Mo. (July 8, 2011) — A group of Missouri National Guardsmen that had been working to save towns in northwest Missouri conducted sandbagging operations in central Missouri to advance the fight against the rising Missouri River.

2nd Lt. Tyler Perkins, a National Guard liaison officer to Cooper County, said they were trying to save the town of Wooldridge from the rising water, which could potentially cause Petite Saline Creek to overflow right into the small town.

“As the river rises, the creek rises,” said Perkins, of Company A, 311th Brigade Support Battalion. “It is coming up steadily every day.”

To ensure that doesn’t happen, the Missouri National Guard sent soldiers from the 1-129th Field Artillery Regiment, the 220th Engineer Company, and the 880th Engineer Team to add 16 to 18 inches to the levee that separates the creek from the town.

Most of the soldiers had previously been sandbagging to protect Forest City and Mound City in northwest Missouri. The mission demonstrated the flexibility of the response to the flooding of the Missouri River.

“Whatever mission they call us for, that’s what we’ll be doing,” said Spc. Daniel Wagner, of the 880th Engineer Team, which is based in Perryville.

Some soldiers were filling up sandbags, and other soldiers stood in assembly lines passing down sandbags to place on the levee.

“We’re making good progress,” said Spc. John Hicklin, of Battery D, 1-129th, who was at the end of the line and laying down the sandbags on the levee. “A lot of us have been working with the same guys for the past five days. That’s why the sandbagging is running smoothly.”

The soldiers are stationed in Independence during the state emergency duty, but stand by to travel to towns or cities that need assistance on any given day during the ongoing fight.

“Each day is a new day, and each place you go to is dealing with a different set of circumstances,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Piburn, a noncommissioned officer in charge of the operation. “Everybody knows how important this mission is, and everybody’s doing well.”

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