By Army Sgt. Michael L. Owens
241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
NEW ORLEANS, May 11, 2011 – Soldiers of the Louisiana National Guard’s 769th Engineer Battalion are constructing sand-filled basket barriers in Morgan City, located about 70 miles west of here, as a precautionary measure against the rising Mississippi River.
About 15 soldiers assigned to the 927th and 928th Sapper Engineer Companies are adding three feet of height to a levee using Hesco baskets to help protect residential areas near Lake Palourde from flooding that could occur if the Morganza Spillway is opened later this week.
“Flood waters may top the levee, so we are adding three more feet to the top of the levee in an attempt to keep water out of this residential neighborhood,” said Army Staff Sgt. Christopher R. Samson, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the mission.
The soldiers have constructed about 650 yards of Hesco, and about 60 percent of the barriers were filled with sand. The mission is to construct a total of 10,000 feet in the Morgan City area.
Most of the Guard members have experience with Hesco baskets due to miles of constructed barriers in Grand Isle and Cameron Parish in support of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response last year.
“These guys are moving fast,” Samson said. “This is a lot of work for a 15-man team, but they are working hard and the experiences they have are showing in their progress.”
Army Spc. Thomas J. Mahfouz, a combat engineer with the 928th, is from the Morgan City area and was upbeat about this mission.
“This is what being a citizen-soldier all is about,” Mahfouz said. “This is where I am from, and this mission gives me a chance to help save my hometown.”