As summer dies down, flood mission continues in Atchison County

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As the summer sun sets, reflecting on water still standing on farm ground, Citizen-Soldiers with the 1-129th Field Artillery man a checkpoint in southwest Atchison County. Spc. Tim Fletcher (left), of Burlington Junction, has been on duty since June 26 and remains on a 12-hour night shift near Nishnabotna along with Spc. Joshua Hughes (right), of St. Joseph, who has been working since July 31. (Photo by Jennifer Archdekin/Missouri National Guard)

By Jennifer Archdekin

ATCHISON COUNTY, Mo. - Though summer appears to be winding down for some, as schools begin opening their doors to students, and farmers prepare for harvest in the coming weeks, more than 50 National Guardsmen remain on duty in Atchison County, Maryville and Kansas City.

After more than two months of flood duty throughout northwest Missouri, four checkpoints in Atchison County continue to be manned by Citizen-Soldiers with the 1-129th Field Artillery, headquartered in Maryville. Task Force 110 is maintaining their tactical operation centers in Kansas City and Maryville to support the troops still on the ground.

"The Soldiers on duty have received great support from the citizens throughout all the flooded areas the Task Force has served in," said Col. Greg Mason, commander of Task Force 110.

For most of the flood mission, Soldiers in Atchison County were housed in Rock Port High School, but with the start of school, those Soldiers still on duty are now staying at the emergency management director's building.

The Missouri River levels have fallen throughout northwest Missouri and Mason said levees are holding steady.

"The National Guard is an emergency response force for disasters," said Mason. "In other disasters after the emergency has passed, the Guard's extended presence has had a calming effect. So sometimes it's hard for the citizens and officials to relinquish the Guard as things return to normal."

Flood waters continue to linger on roads, but Mason said the water is receding and Mother Nature has to take it from here.

Over the course of this flood mission, more than 600 Citizen-Soldiers have served in the flood fight in 14 counties. The Missouri National Guard will remain on duty until released by Gov. Jay Nixon.

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