More than 75 Kansas National Guard soldiers and airmen have begun work in Colorado repairing roads washed away during a flash flood Sept. 12.
U.S. Highway 36, between Lyons and Estes Park, became inaccessible after the flood, cutting off residents in the smaller, rural communities who live along the 25-mile stretch of highway.
Army and Air National Guard units from Kansas arrived in Colorado Oct. 16. The units include the 891st Engineer Battalion (Iola), 226th Engineer Company (Augusta), 242nd Engineer Company (Coffeyville), 772nd Engineer Company (Pittsburg), 190th Civil Engineering Squadron (Topeka), and 184th Intelligence Wing Civil Engineering Squadron (Wichita). The units are comprised of civil engineers and heavy equipment operators.
“Our soldiers and airmen love missions like this because they get the chance to help others by using those skills they train on so diligently throughout the year,” said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, Kansas adjutant general. “This is just one of the many reasons we serve.”
“We are excited to have the Kansas Guard team join our efforts here,” said Lt. Col. Michael Turley, commander, 1457th Engineer Battalion, Utah Army National Guard, who is overseeing the highway project. “I’m confident the team here will do great work in restoring critical highway access for the communities devastated by the flood.”
Guard units from Kansas, Colorado, Montana, and Utah are working sunrise to sunset, seven days a week to repair the highway. More than 175 Guardsman are currently involved in the operation.
“All of the states coming together to help Colorado’s citizens during their time of need shows the value of the National Guard,” said Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, Colorado adjutant general. “The National Guard is all about neighbors helping neighbors, and our neighbors from Utah, Montana and Kansas were there to assist with the manpower and technical expertise needed for a project of this size and scope. This mission couldn’t be completed without the help of other state’s National Guards. This is a true testament of the flexibility of the National Guard and the dedication of our members to continue with this essential project, without delay, even through the recent government shutdown.”
Work includes building road, removing debris, which includes cars, trees and massive boulders, removing asphalt, filling land areas washed away by the water, and installing culverts. Since operations began in September, the multi-state, joint force National Guard team has worked 7,150 man hours, placed 320 feet of culvert, and hauled 10,980 cubic yards of fill material, enough dirt to fill more than 92,403 standard bath tubs.
The joint Kansas National Guard unit is scheduled to return home in early November.