Guard provides presence patrols in Minot's evacuated areas
by Army Spc. Cassandra Simonton
116th Public Affairs Detachment
6/3/2011 - MINOT, N.D. (AFNS) -- Members of the North Dakota Air National Guard's 219th Security Forces Squadron began a new mission June 2 as they continued with flood operations here.
About 50 Guardsmen began providing presence patrols in the city's nine evacuated zones.
The Guard members' presence will help deter possible theft or vandalism while the homeowners are away, officials said. The Guardsmen also are tracking residents who did not evacuate after the mayor issued the order to do so.
"A lot of people are excited we're here," said Staff Sgt. Brandan Ressler, a member of the 219th SFS. "There's a sigh of relief that the Guard is here to help with things."
Sergeant Ressler is serving his third consecutive year on flood duty. June 2, he was watching for suspicious people in Minot's evacuated areas and recording license plate numbers and locations to report to the authorities.
"It's a definite hometown mission," he said. "It feels really good to help out my home. Our main purpose here is to prevent looting. We're trying to protect the people who have followed orders and left."
As they checked in with residents, they visited with Mike Neva, a homeowner in one of the evacuated areas who had returned home for some last-minute waterproofing. He said with the work the North Dakota National Guard has done, he feels confident that his home will be saved. He won't, however, build a house with an 8-foot-deep basement again, he says.
"I'm glad you guys are doing this," Mr. Neva said. "I feel secure with them being here. They're here for our protection and people sometimes don't give them the credit they're due."
Simply being visible in the community goes a long way toward preventing looting, said Master Sgt. Nathan Anderson, with the 219th SFS.
"I think it's good that we're out here deterring events," he said. "The public likes to see us out here and know that we're around. For the situation they're in, the public seems pretty upbeat. They're just doing what they have to do."
All together, about 600 North Dakota National Guardsmen are serving on flood duty in the Minot area, with nearly 1,400 more serving in Bismarck and Mandan, N.D.
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