By Spc. Joshua Barnett, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office
NEW ORLEANS – Approximately 300 Louisiana National Guardsmen continue working across the state to build protective barriers against the approaching flood waters and to patrol levees in support of local, parish and state officials at the request of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
The 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team has installed more than 2.3 miles of HESCO barriers and is currently filling them with sand to create a levee on Avoca Island to prevent backwater flooding from reaching Morgan City and other towns in south Louisiana.
“We had a hard night, it was very cold, it was muddy, but out Soldiers were motivated,” said Lt. Col. Rich Hanes, executive officer, 256th IBCT. “They stayed up all night with no complaints. I’m very proud of them. They’re hard working, great Soldiers and great Americans.”
The levee project is part of a larger effort designed to prevent high water from the Atchafalaya River from travelling through Bayou Chene, over Avoca Island and into the Intracoastal Waterway, where it could flood Morgan City and other towns. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to seal off the waterway, which, without this levee, would divert the water over the island.
More than 100 Soldiers have been conducting 24-hour operations to build the barrier in time.
In Krotz Springs, Soldiers also completed construction of 2,600 linear feet of protective levees in St. Landry Parish.
The 225th Engineer Brigade is conducting 24-hour patrols in the parishes of Concordia, East Carroll, Madison and Tensas in the 5th Levee District to inspect for leaks or seepage along the levee.
Two sand-bagging chutes have been provided to state officials in Tensas Parish. The LANG has also issued 78,000 sandbags to Angola, Avoyelles Parish, St. Martin Parish and West Feliciana Parish.
“As a Citizen-Soldier, this is what we’re here for. We do deploy, but the real reason we’re here is to help our home land,” said Staff Sgt. Craig Smith, a weapons squad leader with B Company, 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th IBCT.