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Homeland Security

Offutt braces for flood with heavy preparations

by Senior Airman Peter R.O. Danielson
55th Wing Public Affairs

6/9/2011 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. (AFNS) -- As the water level rises in the Missouri River, officials here are taking precautions to protect people, equipment and facilities.

According to reports from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Missouri River will crest by June 15. Offutt's systems of levees are expected to hold, but the greatest risk is backwash from surrounding tributaries.

"As with all operations, planning is the key," said Col. Michael Allshouse, the 55th Mission Support Group commander. "We are taking precautionary measures to be ahead of any situation that develops."

Airmen are already working to make sure that local operations are not impeded during this preparation period.

"If the worst case scenario happens and Offutt suffers some flooding, our global missions will not miss a beat," said Brig. Gen. Donald Bacon, the 55th Wing commander. "What we have to rely on in the 55th Wing is our ability to overcome any obstacle, which is helped by the precautions and planning that we're doing today."

Volunteers from Offutt AFB plan to fill sandbags from the Army Corps of Engineers over the next week as a precaution. The sandbags will be used to reinforce and raise existing levees.

"The Corps has sent in multiple experts, including experts who assisted with the New Orleans flooding recovery, to help us understand and inspect the levee systems surrounding the base and the impacts of the waters being released north of the base on these levees," Colonel Allshouse said. "After inspecting them, we're fairly confident that the main installation will not flood. We'll continue to keep a close eye on them as the water rises and will be prepared if something unforeseen happens."

Offutt AFB teams are also busy with local area preparations.

"The 55th Wing and Team Offutt want to be as supportive as possible to our neighbors," said General Bacon. "We're working hard with the cities of Bellevue, Plattsmouth and Omaha to make sure they get through this season."

Members of the 55th Logistics Readiness Squadron members have assisted the city of Omaha with securing naval displays in Freedom Park. Volunteers have been working with Bellevue and Nebraska's Natural Resources District to shore up low areas in the surrounding levees.

"Offutt's concern is for both our mission and people," General Bacon said. "We're thankful to live in a community that cares and helps others. Our military families can rely on each other to help them out when they need it most."

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