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By Tech. Sgt. Richard Mekkri
158th Fighter Wing
Floodwaters caused historic and catastrophic devastation throughout the state of Vermont during the course of two days beginning Monday, July, 10th 2023. Montpelier, Vermont’s capital city, was battered by a record setting 5.28 inches of rainfall on Monday alone — more than any other day on record. This week, the Vermont National Guard was activated to action to assess the damage.
“Events like these require extensive amounts of data collection and dissemination,” said 1st Lt. Nick LeBeau, Liaison Officer (LNO) Operations & Plans Officer in Charge , “and as with any sudden overwhelming amount of information, things can fall through the cracks. For this reason, we want to make sure that no community or family is forgotten.”
25 members of both the Vermont Army National Guard and the Vermont Air National Guard will deploy to more than 130 towns throughout the state as part of the LNO mission.
“The purpose of the LNO mission is to meet with local leaders and relay any damages or necessities to the State Emergency Operations Center that have not already been addressed by local or federal resources.” said LeBeau.
The damages range from impacted resources such as clean drinking water and electricity to infrastructure needs like washed out roadways, driveways and bridges. The damages have also impacted the time it takes to reach some of the communities.
“We saw one house that had its entire driveway disappear,” said Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Powell, 158th Cyber Operations superintendent. “They were cut entirely cut off from all resources until the town was able to get to them.”
Powell, a former Vermont school teacher, was personally impacted as certain impassable roadways made it challenging to check in on his parents. He said that the entire experience has been surreal but that it hasn’t been without some merits.
“It feels good, as a Guard member, to be out here, helping people that I grew up with,” said Powell. “To witness their resilience and to help them get to a place that was better than they were before the flood.”
LeBeau also said that the devastation has brought out the best in the Airmen and Soldiers. He said the Guard members working the LNO mission are neighbors and community members who also live and work in the impacted areas.
“The mission of the Vermont National Guard is founded on selfless service and excellence.” said Lebeau. “These Airmen and Soldiers were given very short notice and chose to put their personal lives on hold to answer the call. In my opinion, there is nothing that captures the mission of the Vermont National Guard more than being able to provide a fully-ready, professional service to our state during a time of need.”