Vermont Airmen, Soldiers assist after historic flooding

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Richard Mekkri,
  • 158th Fighter Wing

Floodwaters caused historic and catastrophic devastation throughout Vermont for two days beginning Monday, July 10. Montpelier, Vermont’s capital city, was battered by a record-setting 5.28 inches of rainfall on Monday alone — more than any other day on record. This week, the Vermont National Guard was activated to assess the damage.

“Events like these require extensive amounts of data collection and dissemination,” said Army National Guard 1st Lt. Nick LeBeau, liaison officer operations and plans. “And, as with any sudden overwhelming amount of information, things can fall through the cracks. For this reason, we want to ensure that no community or family is forgotten.”

Twenty-five Vermont Army and Air National Guard members will deploy to more than 130 towns throughout the state as part of the LNO mission.

“The purpose of the LNO mission is to meet with local leaders and relay any damages or necessities to the State Emergency Operations Center that have not already been addressed by local or federal resources,” LeBeau said.

The damages range from impacted resources such as clean drinking water and electricity to infrastructure needs like washed-out roadways, driveways and bridges. The damages have also impacted the time it takes to reach some communities.

“We saw one house that had its entire driveway disappear,” said Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Powell, 158th Cyber Operations superintendent. “They were cut entirely from all resources until the town could get to them.”

Powell, a former Vermont school teacher, was personally impacted as certain impassable roadways made checking in on his parents challenging. He said that the entire experience has been surreal but hasn’t been without some merits.

“It feels good, as a Guard member, to be out here, helping people that I grew up with,” Powell said. “To witness their resilience and help them get to a place that was better than before the flood.”

LeBeau also said the devastation has brought out the best in the Airmen and Soldiers. He said the Guard members working the LNO mission are neighbors and community members living and working in the impacted areas.

“The mission of the Vermont National Guard is founded on selfless service and excellence,” Lebeau said. “These Airmen and Soldiers were given very short notice and chose to put their personal lives on hold to answer the call. In my opinion, there is nothing that captures the mission of the Vermont National Guard more than being able to provide a fully-ready, professional service to our state during a time of need.”