News: South Pacific Division commander tours Fort Irwin flood damage
Story by Brooks Hubbard IV
FORT IRWIN, Calif.—-Brig. Gen. David Turner, commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Pacific Division, and Los Angeles District leadership toured flood-damaged areas of Fort Irwin, Sept. 19.
The Los Angeles District sent a team of more than 70 engineering and technical support professionals to the fort to assess damage and provide recovery operations after flooding from a monsoon-like storm covered the post with mud and debris Aug. 25.
The storm’s strong winds and rainfall caused an estimated $50 million in damage, to include disintegrating roads and sidewalks and flooding a school, barracks and offices, which displaced soldiers.
“We got up to three inches of rain in about 80 minutes, you can imagine with that amount of rain coming down and the force of it just caused a lot of damage here,” said Fort Irwin Garrison Commander Col. Jonathan Braga. “It was honestly too much for our team to handle and one phone call to the Corps of Engineers got their response team up here within a day. And it wasn’t just any day, it was right before Labor Day weekend.”
“The corps has supported Fort Irwin and the National Training Center for more than 60 years, building a world class training facility for our nation’s warriors and their families,” said Los Angeles District Commander Col. Kim Colloton. “Because our District has years of experience doing civil engineering projects, we had skill sets that were needed to support warfighters and the NTC and assist in getting them back on line and ready to continue training.”
After the tour, Turner visited with post and garrison officials and personally thanked corps responders and Fort Irwin Department of Public Works staff for their efforts.
“It gives me great pleasure to recognize the efforts of this joint team of professionals,” Turner said. “I know your hard work will help bring this post back on line and ready for the upcoming rotation.” Turner presented several team members with Commander’s Coins of Excellence for their efforts.
The team assessed more than 166 buildings, training facilities and ranges for flood damage and life safety. Teams also inspected civil structures like bridges and roadways.
“We’ve been working between 12 and 14 hour days, 7 days straight to inspect these buildings,” said Stephen Boyce, a corps construction representative who is deployed to the fort to assess the damages. Boyce was inspecting a three-story barracks in which the basement was completely flooded destroying the building’s heating and electrical systems. The soldiers who live in the building are temporarily displaced until the damages are repaired.
Because of the corps’ experience in disaster recovery, the teams were able to use the assessments to rapidly generate statements of work and independent government estimates that will ultimately result in contract awards for the clean-up and repair of facilities.