Louisiana Guard rushes to protect city from flood waters

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By Army Sgt. Michael L. Owens | 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Louisiana Guard
Members of the Louisiana National Guard's 927th and 928th Sapper Engineer Companies are constructing sand-filled HESCO basket barriers on top of a levee along Lake Palourde in Morgan City, La., May 10, 2011. The Guard members are adding three feet of protection to the levee as a precautionary measure due to possible flooding caused by the rising Mississippi River.
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael L. Owens)

NEW ORLEANS (5/11/11) - Soldiers of the Louisiana National Guard's 769th Engineer Battalion are constructing sand-filled basket barriers in Morgan City as a precautionary measure against the rising Mississippi River.

About 15 Guard members, assigned to the 927th and 928th Sapper Engineer Companies, on Monday began adding three feet of protection to a levee using HESCO baskets to help protect residential areas near Lake Palourde from flooding that could occur if the Morganza Spillway is opened later this week.

"Flood waters may top the levee, so we are adding three more feet to the top of the levee in an attempt to keep water out of this residential neighborhood," said Army Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Samson, noncommissioned officer in charge of the mission.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Guard members had constructed about 650 yards of HESCO and about 60 percent of them were filled with sand. The mission is to construct a total of 10,000 feet here.

Most of these Guard members have experience with HESCO baskets after building miles of barriers in Grand Isle and Cameron Parish in support of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response last year.

"These guys are moving fast," said Samson. "This is a lot of work for a 15-man team, but they are working hard and the experiences they have are showing in their progress."

Army Spc. Thomas J. Mahfouz, a combat engineer with the 928th, is from the Morgan City area and was upbeat about this mission.

"This is what being a Citizen-Soldier all is about," said Mahfouz. "This is where I am from, and this mission gives me a chance to help save my hometown."

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