Local Guard unit heads to Cedar Rapids
WASHINGTON, Iowa (GTNS) – The Iowa National Guard Armory’s parking lot was full of vehicles Monday morning and the building was alive with soldiers making last-minute checks of their gear and packing the military trucks that would transport them to Cedar Rapids to aid in flood recovery.
About 30 members of the 294th Medical Company, of all ranks and specialties, boarded the transports shortly after 10 a.m. as part of the Iowa National Guard’s response effort to provide support to emergency response units addressing flooding in several communities in Iowa. The 294th’s primary mission will be to provide medical support for the soldiers working in the Cedar Rapids area.
“Our mission is initially to provide sick call services,” Maj. Joseph Provateare, company commander, said. “If anyone is sick or injured we will provide that Level 1 type of care and evacuation if necessary.”
He said if the need arises, the soldiers could help with flood support in other ways that require manpower. The National Guard had provided flood support during record floods in 1993, 2008 and 2010.
Provateare said it is unknown how long the soldiers will be deployed in Cedar Rapids. He estimates they will be providing support for about a week.
“We are looking forward to being able to help the community and the great state of Iowa,” he said.
The Iowa National Guard, in conjunction with the governor’s office, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and other state, federal and local entities, is providing assistance in support of flood relief operations in southeastern Iowa. Due to recent heavy rains, the Cedar River and many streams are at or above flood level and have forced many Iowans from their homes. With additional thunderstorms over the weekend, there are heightened concerns for Iowans’ safety and security. More than a dozen counties have been declared disaster areas.
“Based on information Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management has shared with the Joint Operations Center, I have made the decision to bring 11 Iowa National Guard liaisons to work with county Emergency Management coordinators for early identification of possible National Guard missions, and to anticipate where support may be needed to prevent loss of life and critical infrastructure,” Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, the Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, said. “We continue to be proactive in anticipating and planning for possible requests for support that come to us from Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which has the lead in coordinating the state’s response effort. We’ll continue active monitoring of the conditions in the state that could require response coordination, as well as ongoing assessments and planning for response missions that may be appropriate for the Iowa National Guard.
About 400 Iowa National Guard soldiers have been mobilized.
The Associated Press reports that half of the homes and businesses in the area expected to flood have been evacuated. The National Weather Service says the river is forecast to crest Tuesday at 23 feet, which is about 7 feet into the category of major flooding but still below the 2008 record.