Scott responds to severe weather, flooding
By Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 19, 2013
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- After receiving 5.2 inches of rain during a span of 12 hours which caused several areas on base to flood yesterday, teams throughout the base began clean up actions today.
The rain from April 18 was more than the base had received in the entire months of February and March, combined. By late morning it was clear that the rain was causing significant problems as many parking lots became full of water causing damage to vehicles, some homes in base housing began experiencing flooding in basements and streets became impassable.
One historical building on base that houses the 375th Air Mobility Wing headquarters staff and another where portions of the Air Mobility Command staff works experienced flooding in their basement offices. In addition, Hangar 3 which holds the C-21 flight schoolhouse, also flooded. Civil engineers have assessed the damage and plan to replace carpeting, some portions of dry wall and some furniture in these areas.
Also hardest hit were several historical homes on base in the Colonial Housing area. Dawn Sousa, Scott Family Housing community director, said they had seven water extraction teams working throughout the night and still have five teams pumping water that continues to seep in through the basements. Dumpsters are being delivered today for residents to dispose of ruined items and are also delivering fans and dehumidifiers to homes throughout Colonial Housing.
"This is just unprecedented," said Sousa, "and we'll be monitoring the cleanup and restoration of all homes to avoid environmental impacts."
Fred Hatley, 375th AMW Equal Opportunity, who works in the wing headquarters building, said he knew they were in trouble yesterday "when we looked out the window and saw a dumpster floating down back parking lot. We all tried to figure out ways to keep the water from coming in, but we ended up with about an inch of water throughout the entire basement. Everyone came together yesterday and again this morning to move furniture and rip out the carpet ... with our very own vice commander [Col. John Price] leading the way!"
As a result of the flooded conditions, nonessential mission personnel were released from duty and the 375th Security Forces Squadron began controlling traffic patterns to get drivers off base safely.
Chief Master Sgt. Aaron Theiken, 375th SFS security forces manager, said, "It became clear to us that there were going to be some significant issues with traffic and safety on the roadways based on the amount of water. We had major concerns with access to certain areas of the base and as those concerns materialized, leadership made the decision to get as many people off the base, away from the flooded conditions. We looked into the safest routes and started controlling traffic to get people off the base."
At any given time, there are about 13,000 employees working at the base. Not everyone evacuated immediately, but complicating the release of personnel was the fact that two the three gates normally used for exiting the base were flooded and shut down. Other alternate gates would open, only to be closed again due to the changing conditions or could only be accessed by a small portion of the base.
In one creative move, the flightline was closed temporarily so that cars could cross the ramp as part of their route to leave the base. He said they were also concerned about roads off base as well.
"We closed Belleville Gate because route 161 and parts of route 158 were shut down," he said. "That made our job difficult."
The 375th Civil Engineer Squadron operations flight commander, Maj. Michelle Sterling, said that the squadron has been working nonstop since the rain began. Damage assessment teams were sent to critical facilities to assess problems caused by the excess water. They checked sewage lift stations on an hourly basis, monitored the waste water treatment plant, and the electrical infrastructure.
"The infrastructure here did very well," she said. "We did have a couple of minor issues with some bridges being topped on the northeast side of base and for the most part, the power stayed on, except for one circuit and we put that back on fairly quickly."
Unit Control Centers were stood up to receive reports of damage and account for personnel and CE's will remain activated throughout the day. CE developed a clean up plan and several augmentees across the base have worked today in that effort.
Theiken explained, "Right now, our focus is on recovery. We still have a mission to do with providing security to the base. With that, we have to take care of debris or abandoned vehicles. There are several abandoned vehicles that we need to find the owners for."
Everyone has come together during this response and Theiken said he's proud of his defenders.
"They took the ball and ran with it. They took the brunt of the weather because they were exposed to it the entire time--they're still ringing themselves out! They made things happen and moved people around to safe areas."
Sterling said that she is thrilled with the way her teams working to get the base cleaned up and back to normal, and asked for continued patience as they finish their assessments. She reminds everyone that if there are any facility issues, to call CE customer service at 256-2202 or the UCC at 256-8625 today.
For more information about claims from the storm damage, visit http://www.scott.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123345048.