National Guard leads rescue efforts in Sumner, Williamson

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 12:59pm
National Guard assisting in rescues (2680 x 1780).jpg

Photo courtesy of the Tennessee National Guard 

National Guard soldiers from the 1176th Transportation Company, based in Smyrna, were dispatched throughout Sumner and Williamson Counties this weekend to aid stranded residents in escaping the record flooding.

The soldiers moved in Light Medium Tactical Vehicles, cargo trucks with a 2.5-ton carrying capacity and a high wheelbase, able to ford high-water areas.

Capt. Ronnie Matthews is the commander of the 1176th and supervised their rescue efforts in Franklin.

“We spent the first night going door to door, searching for people needing evacuation from their homes,” he said. “We used our LMTVs to drive through flood areas to reach homes and businesses that local rescue agencies couldn’t reach.”

Using their vehicles to reach flooded residencies, or those at risk of being surrounded by rapidly rising waters, the soldiers assessed with citizens if there was a need for evacuation. They waded through floodwaters, sometimes chest high, to assist residents in leaving their home and entering military vehicles.

Once secure in the LMTVs, Guardsmen took the flood victims to established shelters or other safe, dry areas. Matthews noted the range of Middle Tennesseans that needed help.

“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,” he said “I was never prouder to see my soldiers in action."

Another team of five vehicles from the 1176th assisted the Sumner County Emergency Management Agency in Gallatin rescue efforts.

May 2 was spent transporting rescued citizens to the Gallatin Civic Center, the site of a temporary Red Cross shelter, one of 21 across the state.