Written by Lt. Rob McCaskey, chief of incident management, Sector Upper Mississippi River.
After nearly three weeks of operations, the Coast Guard is winding down its response to seasonal floods on the Red River. Record winter snows this year, and extremely high ground water content, left the Red River watershed primed for flooding. A late spring thaw resulted in some river levels rivaling records set in the historic floods of 2009, whereas other areas did not surpass 2009 levels, enforcing the fact that flooding is difficult to accurately predict.
Following a federal emergency declaration on April 7th, the Coast Guard, led by a coordinating incident management team from Sector Upper Mississippi River, deployed personnel and resources from four Coast Guard districts and nine Coast Guard sectors to assist the state of North Dakota for the third straight year as the river flowed over its normal banks and threatened the homes and businesses of local residents.
During the 21-day response, the Coast Guard flew a total of 65 helicopter hours and operated 25 airboat hours on the water, successfully rescuing 12 people and three pets. These assets also provided critical situational awareness to North Dakota emergency managers by performing aerial and ground surveys.
In addition to operational assets, support personnel manned coordinating offices at the state command center in Bismarck, N.D., and a local operational command center in Fargo, N.D. Sector Upper Mississippi River also provided a coordinating incident management team for the third straight year of Red River flooding, with Capt. Steve Hudson serving as incident commander.
“The success of this operation can be directly attributed to the professionalism and teamwork of the Coast Guard members as well as the other Federal and state emergency responders who participated,” said Cmdr. Steve Teschendorf, deputy incident commander. “We are pleased that we played a part in lessening the potential impact on the population in North Dakota.”
While a single helicopter and support personnel currently remain in North Dakota, conditions continue to improve and all Coast Guard responders are expected to depart on Friday, pending a significant weather event.