Guardsmen aid in flood rescues
Posted: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 8:01 pm
As flood waters were rising and rain still pounding throughout Tennessee Saturday and Sunday National Guard soldiers from the 1176th Transportation Company were deploying in Middle Tennessee to assist local emergency management agencies in rescue operations.
The Smyrna-based unit was alerted and soldiers dispatched throughout Williamson and Sumner counties to help rescue citizens stranded in their homes following record flooding and rains.
“We spent the first night in the Franklin area going door to door, searching for people needing evacuation from their homes,” said Capt. Ronnie Mathews, commander of the 1176th. “We used our LMTVs to drive through flooded areas to reach homes and businesses that local rescue agencies couldn’t reach.”
LMTVs, or Light Medium Tactical Vehicles, are cargo trucks with a 2.5-ton carrying capacity with a high-wheel base, capable of fording flooded areas where normal vehicles cannot go.
“We would drive to flooded homes, or those cut off by rising waters, and check them to ascertain if people needed to be evacuated,” Mathews said. “The soldiers would then climb out of the cab and sometimes ford through chest-deep water to help them out of their homes and into our trucks.”
Once loaded into the LMTVs, the Guardsmen transported the citizens to safe areas.
“We helped recover children as young as four months. One of my soldiers carried an 83 year-old-woman, above the water, from her house to the LMTV,” Matthews said. “I was never prouder to see my soldiers in action.”
While Mathews was assisting in Franklin, another team of five vehicles from the 1176th aided the Sumner County Emergency Management Agency rescue operations in Gallatin.
Throughout the afternoon and evening of May 2, this team transported people rescued from their homes to the Gallatin Civic Center where the American Red Cross established a temporary shelter. “We helped swift-water teams rescue people stranded in their homes due to fast-moving water,” said Pvt. Calvin Gaither, a truck driver with the 1176th. “They were cut off and couldn’t leave.”
As soon as the residents were shuttled across the water by raft, they loaded into the LMTVs to get out of the rain and be shuttled to the Civic Center.
“There were adults, children and pets that came across; one family brought a caged bird with them; another brought a 60-pound dog.” Gaither said. “I was just proud to get the chance to help out other Tennesseans.”
Throughout the weekend, the 1176th assisted in rescuing over 240 people.
Published in The Messenger 5.5.10