By Barbara Wilson
Members of the Illinois National Guard have been released from State Active Duty after more than two months of flood operations in communities along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.
For 62 days, a total of nearly 830 Citizen Soldiers and Citizen Airmen comprised of six Task Forces from 14 units in communities throughout Illinois conducted flood operations in 12 counties, according to data released by the Illinois National Guard Joint Operations Center. The Task Forces completed 62 requests for assistance along more than 362 miles of riverbank as part of the overall state team coordinated and led by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to assist counties and local communities.
“The Illinois National Guard is a community-based organization, and when our communities need help we answer the call. As they do when they deploy to fight our nations wars, they leave families and jobs behind to help their fellow citizens,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, The Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “These guardsmen proved the National Guard motto of ‘Always Ready, Always There.’ The men and women of the Illinois National Guard stood with our neighbors in flood impacted areas and helped protect the communities from further damage.”
Since being activated for State Active Duty on May 30, members of the Illinois National Guard conducted sandbagging and sandbag transportation operations, levee support and monitoring, pump monitoring and served as a Quick Reaction Force.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker activated approximately 200 Illinois National Guard soldiers for State Active Duty May 30 to assist with flood relief operations in southwest Illinois along multiple levees and other areas hard-hit by rising waters.
“As we face historic weather in this state, the safety of our communities will always be my top priority, and every relevant state agency is working in concert to protect communities,” Pritzker said in announcing the activation.
Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 123rd Field Artillery Regiment in Milan, Galesburg and Springfield and the 341st Military Intelligence Company in Chicago were notified of the activation May 29 and arrived in Quincy, Illinois May 31. The Soldiers were tasked with strengthening levees, constructing protective barriers, and providing security along the levee systems in Greene Calhoun, Scott, St. Clair, Madison, Adams and Jersey counties. The Soldiers were released from State Active Duty June 16.
On June 6, Soldiers from 233rd Military Police Company in Springfield, 933rd Military Police Company in Ft. Sheridan, 1844th Transportation Company in East St. Louis, and the 709th Medical Company in Bartonville were placed on State Active Duty status. The Soldiers were sent to southern Illinois to work flood relief operations in Alton, East Carondelet, Chester and Madison County. Soldiers were tasked with sandbagging in Chester and Prairie Du Rocher, providing evacuation support in Valmeyer, Illinois and providing flood wall surveillance in Alton.
On June 11, nearly 55 Soldiers were sent to Union and Alexander counties for sandbag operations in Wolf Lake and East Cape Girardeau, Illinois. On June 16, Soldiers were redeployed for flood fight operations in Hardin, Winchester, Grafton, Jerseyville, Alton, East Carondelet, Valmeyer, Hartford, East Cape Girardeau, and Wolf Lake. By June 20, with other flood fight operations under control, the Soldiers moved into flood fight operations in East Cape Girardeau, Illinois. They were released from State Active Duty on June 21.
Soldiers from the 766th Brigade Engineer Battalion and Company E, 634th Brigade Support Battalion, both in Decatur, were activated for flood fight operations on June 20 and sent to the East Cape Girardeau, Illinois area of operations. While in East Cape Girardeau, Soldiers transported sandbags, monitored levee and pump operations, manned the road closures and placed sandbags to control flooding.
On July 2, Airmen from 126th Air Refueling Wing at Scott Air Force Base, 182nd Air Wing from Peoria and the 183rd Wing in Springfield were activated and sent to East Cape Girardeau, Illinois, to continue with sandbagging in the area and to monitor levee and pump operations.
Soldiers from the 1644th Transportation Company from Rock Falls, Illinois, were activated July 9 and joined flood fight operations in East Cape Girardeau.
Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Normal, Illinois, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Sullivan, Illinois, Company E, 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Decatur, Illinois, and 1644th Transportation Company in Rock Falls, Illinois, were activated July 26. Soldiers were sent to East Cape Girardeau to monitor pumps and levees in the small Alexander County community.
With the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau, Missouri at 33.4 feet, a drop in river conditions of more than four inches in 24 hours, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency made the decision the area no longer needed emergency protection measures. The Illinois National Guard left East Cape Girardeau July 30.