By Jennifer Archdekin
Missouri National Guard
AMAZONIA, Mo. (6/16/11) – Liaison officers from Task Force 110, the Missouri Army National Guard team tapped to support flood fight efforts in northwest Missouri, have routinely been on the ground in Andrew County working with the emergency operations center for the area.
Army Staff Sgt. Brian Garr and Army Sgt. Jeremy Hughes spent June 14 reporting on areas along the Missouri River. Sand boils were reported south of Amazonia, and these Citizen-Soldiers set out to locate them and report on what they found.
Surrounded by countless rows of field corn and very few landmarks, Garr and Hughes relied on basic land navigation and orienteering skills to locate the sand boils. They then calculated their grid location so they could be continually tracked.
Andrew Marske, civil engineer with Army Corps of Engineers – Kansas City district, said the sand boils are caused from the water on the river side of the levee trying to equalize the pressure on the field side.
“It is finding the path of least resistance,” said Marske.
The water under pressure pushes up through the ground and appears to “boil” up. Sand boils can be a mechanism contributing to a levee failure during floods. However, Marske said the sand boils and pin boils, smaller versions, appear to be harmless at this time, but will be flagged and watched as the river continues to change.
“We’ll just monitor it and see what happens,” said Marske. “This out in the middle of a cornfield is much better than next to the levee.”
The sand boils at this location are far enough away from the levee to cause little alarm, but still worthy of monitoring, Marske said. If the sand boils were next to the levee and sediment is clearly moving, caused by the water boiling up out of the ground, this would present a problem because the levee would be losing material from underneath.
“The levee settles in that spot. That could weaken it and potentially breach it,” Marske said. "It’s good to have lots of sets of eyes out here.”
Working with the Army Corps of Engineers and other local officials has been a learning experience for both of these Citizen-Soldiers.
This is not Garr’s first state emergency duty, nor his first flood duty. He was called up during the flood of 1993 and supported missions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Though Garr has a fair amount of experience under his belt, he said so far it has been an education nonetheless. As a member of Battery B, 1-129th in Chillicothe, Garr also deployed to Germany and Kosovo and is using training he received for those missions on this flood duty.
Ultimately, what means the most to Garr is knowing he is making a difference in Missouri.
“It’s nice to get out and help the people of the state,” said Garr. “It’s nice to help people that are out here trying to make a living. We’re here to help them to try to continue doing that.”
Hughes, who serves with Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1-129th Field Artillery in Maryville, is experiencing a stateside mission for the first time and is proud to be a part of the flood fight effort.
“This is all pretty close to home,” said Hughes.
This is the second flood mission the Missouri National Guard has taken on in 2011 and the seventh flood response since 2007. The Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen are highly experienced in flood response.