When the Red River in Fargo, ND began to rise rapidly last week due to fast-thawing snow, members of the 54th Helicopter Squadron at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., began preparing for search and rescue missions as part of an interagency task force. In the past, the 54th Helicopter Squadron has deployed in support of Joint Task Force Katrina and Rita. The 54th brings specialized hoist equipment, a necessary tool for search and rescue in flood conditions, as well as a Forward Looking Infrared System, a high-tech camera with night vision and thermal heat-seeking capabilities. Reports state that the flood waters are easing, but there is still a lot of work and monitoring to do before an all clear can be sounded. Below are some photos (except #1) by Airman 1st Class Joshua Rosales and commentary from Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs from the effort.
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. — A pair of UH-1N Huey helicopters take off from here March 25 heading for Bismarck, N.D., to assist in disaster relief efforts from flooding the city is bracing for. Eight crewmembers and two helicopters from the 54th Helicopter Squadron are deploying to aid the recovery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joe Rivera)
March 29, 2009
Today we demonstrated our search and rescue capabilities by showing community members in Hillsboro, N.D., how the Lucas hoist system provides recovery support. We had a crew from the 54th Helicopter Squadron, out of Minot Air Force Base, set up at the Hillsboro Regional Airport. We surveyed the flooding of the Red River and positioned our forces to be available when called upon. The helicopter our crew flew was a UH-1N “Huey”.
March 30, 2009—2:45 CST
Two of the helicopter crews from Minot Air Force Base redeployed Friday to Grand Forks Air Force Base, to assist in the flood relief efforts. Earlier in the week we went to Bismarck and returned to swap out the crew. Our teams are standing by to provide maximum support. Currently, we may be in place until Wednesday, but a duration until Saturday is also a possibility. When this photograph was taken yesterday, the waters were up a little bit and the wall seemed to be holding. However today, the water has started to seep through.
March 30, 2009—2:50 CST
We continue to survey the bridge along the Red River, monitoring the flooding. We’ve already flown over it and around twice today and will continue so in the search and rescue mission.