RED HORSE assists State Capitol region in flood clean-up

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum
  • 111th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
     The 201st RED HORSE, Det. 1 activated 44 members on September 12th to assist state and local authorities with clean-up efforts after the onslaught of devastating rains brought on by Hurricane Irene and remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. The series of
storms substantially impacted the central region of Pennsylvania.
     Staged for a pre-dawn convoy departure, personnel and 15 specialized trucks towed trailers loaded with earth moving equipment that lined the roadway.  "Many of us worked late into the night finalizing all the staging necessary for the planned five o'clock departure," said Technical Sgt. Geoffrey Gay, heavy equipment repairman with the 201st RED HORSE Squadron, Det. 1.
     The Harrisburg region experienced record-breaking rainfalls of over 22 inches from Aug. 1st through Sept. 10th. Annual average precipitation for this time frame is a mere 4.25 inches compared to 13.47 inches of precipitation that came solely from the three days of tropical storm Lee.
     The deployed members from Willow Grove Air Reserve Station, named TASK FORCE ENGINEERING, joined Army guardsmen from TASK FORCE JOSHUA in northern Harrisburg. They were dispatched immediately to a sector of streets to assist in clean-up
efforts. The teams hand carried mounds of water damaged household goods that were now clogging walkways and roads. Heavy front end loading equipment was used to fill large dump trucks, while the Harrisburg Police Department provided escort and road closure operations.
     Neighborhood residents were extremely pleased to receive the assistance from the teams as they went from house to house.  Varying degrees of home damage was reported, from minor wet walls to basement and first floor flooding from the swelling Susquehanna River. Children came out of their front doors and offered smiles, waves and thanks to the workers on the street.
     Command and control of the Pennsylvania TASK FORCE SOUTH (PTF-S) region is typically a joint task divided between the Pa Army Guard, 56th Stryker Brigade and Pa Air Guard, 111th Fighter Wing. This past week, primary responsibility for this incident response had been transferred to the 111th Fighter Wing under Lt. Col. Joseph Mezzatesta, Commander of the 111th Mission Support Group. The PTF-S team is currently manned jointly with members of the 56th Stryker Brigade and 111th Fighter Wing around the clock. This area of coordination extends from Philadelphia County to west Bedford County and as far north as Penn State College main campus in Centre
     The RED HORSE response mission came to an end on Friday Sept. 16 as they convoyed from Harrisburg back home to Willow Grove. According to Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Siffel, 201st RED HORSE Sq., Det. 1 deployed operation superintendent, the
tonnage of refuse collected approached 100,000 pounds, with 50 full large dump truck loads collected on Wednesday alone.