17:09 PM

S. Dakota Wing Aircrews Photograph Flood Damage

1st Lt. Mimi Klosterman
Public Affairs Officer
South Dakota Wing

South Dakota Wing aircrews took to the skies to capture photos of Midwest flooding for emergency managers to use in assessing flood impact in South Dakota and neighboring Iowa and Nebraska.

The wing initially responded March 18 to the Iowa Wing's request for assistance in obtaining aerial photographs of flooded areas from Sioux City, Iowa, to Omaha, Nebraska.

"Considering how much of the river you flew, we are happy with the products. Your crew also delivered them fast, which was most helpful," Jonathon Paoli, geographic information system coordinator with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, told wing officials.

On March 19, officials with Pennington County, South Dakota, called on the wing for photos of ice dams on the Cheyenne River in western South Dakota.

In addition, Col. Mike Beason, South Dakota Wing incident commander for the flooding missions, tasked the wing to conduct training missions to increase members’ photography capabilities and train mission staff in processing and uploading photos.

On March 20, aircrews took photos of the Big Sioux River Valley from Sioux Falls to Brookings and the Skunk Creek Basin from Chester to Sioux Falls. The images were provided to county emergency managers in the area.

On Monday, another crew took photos of flooding in the James River Valley east near Mitchell, South Dakota. Another training crew photographed flooding in Dell Rapids, Baltic and Sioux Falls. A third crew flew a photo training mission from Pierre, taking pictures of the Missouri, Bad and White rivers.

"The training missions helped hone the wing's capabilities in the processing of photos,” Beason said. “They are now ready to assist with a massive response that could occur from a heavy snow melt."

In addition, various squadrons have been preparing and loading sandbags for residents in designated flood zone areas.

Participating aircrew members were:

Mission pilots

  • Lt. Col. Myra Christenson, Pierre Composite Squadron
  • Lt. Col. Russ Limke, Lookout Mountain Composite Squadron
  • Maj. E.W. Filler, Big Sioux Composite Squadron
  • Capt. Kurt Johnson, Sioux Falls Composite Squadron
  • Capt. Neil Schmid, Sioux Falls Composite Squadron
  • Capt. Brandon West, Sioux Falls Composite Squadron

Mission observers

  • Lt. Col. Buck Deweese, Wing Headquarters
  • Lt. Col. Justin Johnson, Sioux Falls Composite Squadron
  • Maj. Shannon Hofer, Big Sioux Composite Squadron
  • Maj. Jerry Zurovski, Sioux Falls Composite Squadron
  • Capt. Jon Becker, Pierre Composite Squadron
  • Cadet Chief Master Sgt. Jacob Roth

Mission observers/aerial photographers

  • Lt. Col. Tam Gatje, Pierre Composite Squadron
  • Maj. Tim Modde, Crazy Horse Composite Squadron
  • Maj. Karla West, Wing Headquarters
  • 2nd Lt. Keven Kayser, Sioux Falls Composite Squadron
  • Cadet Capt. Kyle Clement, Lincoln County Flight