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North Dakota Wing

Prepared to respond to blizzards, flooding

When a massive blizzard hit North Dakota in 1949, the wing was there to help. Braving heavy snow and temperatures below zero, members flew 550 hours delivering vital fuel, food and medicine to isolated areas cut off by snow-blocked roads, highways and railroads.

Although most airports were snowed in from a 1966 blizzard, the wing nevertheless managed to furnish ski-equipped planes and flew 32 sorties. The wing was involved in relief efforts following another blizzard in 1978.

In 1969, a flood brought wing members out to evacuate the injured, provide communications, conduct aerial surveillance and transport supplies and equipment.

The Red River rose in March 2009, and a blizzard simultaneously whipped through the area, rendering power lines useless and the Missouri River impassable. Some 100 wing members turned out to fill sandbags, build dikes and photograph the damage from a bird’s-eye view. Sandbagging efforts protected a radio station, a critical communications point. When a Red Cross building was threatened, 14 wing members moved quickly to relocate important supplies and equipment to a safer location. Ground crews also prepared sandbags for the 115,000-square-foot FargoDome.

Flooding returned in the spring of 2011, when the Red River reached historic new heights. Volunteers from six squadrons performed dike patrols using FLIR (forward looking infrared) to locate potential leaks, flew photo reconnaissance sorties and prepared sandbags.

Floodwaters cover much of Interstate 29 west of Oslo as trucks attempt to navigate the superhighway in 2011. This aerial photo was one of thousands taken by the North Dakota Wing. Emergency officials used the images to plan for expected inundations as well as to assess damage from past or ongoing flooding. Photo by Senior Member Casey Kinosz, North Dakota Wing
Floodwaters cover much of Interstate 29 west of Oslo as trucks attempt to navigate the superhighway in 2011. This aerial photo was one of thousands taken by the North Dakota Wing. Emergency officials used the images to plan for expected inundations as well as to assess damage from past or ongoing flooding. Photo by Senior Member Casey Kinosz, North Dakota Wing
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