By Barbara Wilson
Illinois National Guard Soldiers from the 2123 Forward Support Company, 2nd Battallion, 123rd Field Artillery Regiment, located in Milan, Illinois are providing security along approximately 20 miles of levees in St. Clair County.
The 10 Soldiers, working out of the East Carondelet, Illinois Community Center, have partnered with the local Police Department and the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency to patrol the Metro East Sanitation District levee on the northside of St. Clair County and the Prairie Du Pont Levee District area on the southside of the county. The Soldiers are responsible for patrolling the levees from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The part-time East Carondelet Police Department patrol the levees from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m.
According to Illinois National Guard 1st. Lt. Charles Smith III, of Bolingbrook, Illinois, the two three-Soldier teams arrived in the East Carondelet area June 1 and started working the patrols June 2.
“The Soldiers look for sand boils during their shifts,” Smith said.
“In simple terms, sand boils are the levees finding a place to vent,” said Bryan Whitaker, Assistant Director, St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency.
The Soldiers are a welcome relief to the small town, according to Herb Simmons, St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency and East Carondelet mayor.
“They are our extra eyes and ears on the levees,” Simmons said. “In a situation like this, with a part-time police department, we can’t get by without them.”