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Corps sends team to Fort Irwin to assess monsoon damage

Published Sept. 3, 2013

FORT IRWIN, Calif.--The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles district sent a five-person team of engineering professionals to Fort Irwin to assess damage soonafter a monsoon storm hit the post Aug 25.

There was no loss of life or injuries reported from the flash flood event. The storm reportedly lasted more than an hour and consisted of driving rain, high winds and hail.

The team consisting of civil, structural and design cost engineers, arrived at the post within 24 hours after the storm.

“The storm hit the installation with an abundant rain causing damage to barracks and roads.  The rain also filled the drainage systems with mud and debris,” said Randi Elder, a program manager with the district’s Fort Irwin Resident Office. “The post Department of Public Works requested our expertise to initially assess the damage to the installation.”

Upon arrival, the team began their initial assessment of flooded areas, barracks and training facilities. 

“I got the notice to come out here and I was on the road within eight hours,” said Jose Rocha, a civil design engineer with the Los Angeles District.  “I arrived and began my inspection of bridges, roads and drainage systems to determine if they were structurally safe for use and to also develop and design engineering solutions to remediate any problems I may find.”

Each year, the Corps sends hundreds of people to respond to disasters around the world. When disasters occur, it is not just a local Corps district or office that responds. Personnel and other resources are mobilized across the country to carry out response missions.

The team inspected more than 100 structures, including roads and bridges. Additionally, the team evaluated training facilities and construction projects to determine the extent of damages to the facilities in order to provide its report and recommendations to the DPW.

“The amount of mud and debris in and outside of the training structures is amazing. Concrete buildings were thrown around like sticks by the surge of the debris flow.” said Justin Gay, a project manager with the district, as he inspected the Tiefort city-Medina Jabal complex, a training area on Fort Irwin that simulates combat scenarios like those in Afghanistan and Iraq. “Our teams have inspected barracks, support offices and our ongoing projects, specifically the new Fort Irwin hospital construction project which upon initial evaluations, no significant delays are foreseen.” 

The assessment team, in conjunction with Fort Irwin garrison officials, hope to have assessments and cleanup related to the flooding to be completed by mid-September when Army units are due to arrive for training.