CARROLLTON – Rising floodwaters and a merciless sun have been a potent combination all along the banks of the swollen Illinois and Mississippi Rivers where hundreds of Illinois National Guardsmen work diligently to protect flood-prone communities in support of one of the largest floods in recent Illinois history. As temperatures and humidity rise, civilian volunteers and members of Company C, 341st Military Intelligence Battalion based in Chicago, IL. transported and laid sandbags along critical points on the levee in the Hartwell Levee and Drainage District north of Carrollton, IL.
“The fact of the matter is, if you want to join the Guard and really help people in your community, this is it,” said Army Sgt. Jacob Bultmann, a soldier of eight years with the 341st MI Bn. and a Petersburg IL., resident. “This is a bigger deal than deploying to combat for us. It’s what separates the guard from active duty.”
Local volunteers and civilians from the Hartwell Levee and Drainage district brought all-terrain vehicles to help ferry sandbags along the levee to be positioned on the levee by soldiers working in cycles - one crew loading bags, one laying them, and another taking refuge from the sun.
“Without these soldiers, we would be in bad shape,” said John Bolen, the District Station Manager for the past seven years and a Carrollton native. “It’s amazing what they’ve done. There’s only a few of us that live here, so we can’t do it all ourselves.”
Bolen said the floodwaters were worse than they had been in decades, saying he had never seen flooding at current levels since 1993.
To date, Governor JB Pritzker has mobilized 400 Illinois National Guardsmen to State Active Duty to support the Illinois Emergency Management Agency’s flood fight operation. These soldiers are reinforcing levees, providing levee monitoring/security and assisting with emergency operations in river communities throughout the state.