Missouri National Guard Uses Helicopters to Save Wooldridge
WOOLDRIDGE - Dozens of Missouri National Guard Soldiers spent their Independence Day keeping the tiny town of Wooldridge free from water.
Soldiers from the 35th Combat Aviation Brigade, 311th Brigade Support Battalion, 1-129th Field Artillery Regiment and 220th Engineer Company filled one-ton sandbags that were hoisted by helicopter to halt the flow of water into the area around town, said Command Sgt. Maj. Denis Gladbach.
Soldiers have been on duty in the area since Friday afternoon and have seen strong support from the community, said 2nd Lt. Tyler Perkins.
"The City Council has contacted so many volunteers, we've seen about 20-30 civilian volunteers each day," Perkins said. "Everybody is very dedicated to saving it."
Wooldridge has only 47 residents, but Perkins said the community has stepped up to do its part whether it is helping in sandbagging efforts or providing food and drinks for the men and women who are doing the hard labor.
Andy Clay, of Jamestown, owns land around Wooldridge. People began noticing issues with an irrigation pipe in the area the weekend before Independence Day. Early attempts to stop the flow were successful in slowing down the amount of water coming from the pipes, but the Guard's involvement has been a lifesaver, Clay said.
"Working with the Guard has been awesome," Clay said. "We wouldn't have been able to do it without the Guard. We appreciate it greatly."
The feeling is mutual, Perkins said.
"They're very thankful - at the end of the day, they tell us how much it means to them to have us here," Perkins said. "But it goes both ways - it's their support that has really helped us out as well."
The Missouri National Guard has been on duty since early June and will stay on duty until released by Gov. Jay Nixon.