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139th Airmen patrol levee at Lake Contrary

A stop sign shows a few inches of red near Levee 455-R on July 7, 2011 at Lake Contrary in Buchanan County, Mo. Airmen with the Missouri Air National Guard’s 139th Airlift Wing began patrolling the levee on July 1, 2011.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheldon Thompson/RELEASED)

A stop sign shows a few inches of red near Levee 455-R on July 7, 2011 at Lake Contrary in Buchanan County, Mo. Airmen with the Missouri Air National Guard’s 139th Airlift Wing began patrolling the levee on July 1, 2011.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheldon Thompson/RELEASED)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo -- A few Inches of the red on top of a stop sign can still be seen from levee 455-R near Lake Contrary. Several days ago the top of the letter "T" was being used as a visual aid to gauge river height by Airmen patrolling the levee.

Airmen from the Missouri Air National Guard's 139th Airlift Wing in St. Joseph, Mo., started patrolling levee 455-R on July 1, 2011 at Lake Contrary in Buchanan County, Mo.

The roughly seven and a half mile levee, split into three zones, is being patrolled by teams of two over an eight hour shift. The patrol will be migrating to a 24-hour operation over the upcoming weekend.

There are currently eight airman working the levee patrol, and will jump to 18 to cover three eight hour shifts, as well as two days where city employees will take over the patrol.
"Three teams patrol the different zones of the levee. Their objective is to find anything that could possibly be wrong with the levee," said Senior Master Sgt. Eric Hopkins, 139th Airlift Wing emergency manager.

A sand boil, breach, any kind of problem with the levee itself, or any individual walking, driving, or boating from the river to the levee, can all lead to problems.

Airmen are also working with the local Buchanan County Sheriff's Department providing extra security around the levee.

Airmen will remain on State Emergency Duty until released by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.