Army garrisons in Europe seek funds to repair wind damage
Army garrisons are asking for more than $3 million in extra money from Installation Management Command-Europe to deal with damage from a windstorm that ripped through northern Europe last month.
Hardest hit financially was the area once known as U.S. Army Garrison Franconia in Germany, which includes the communities of Würzburg and Ansbach. The European Region Transformation Group, which replaced the inactivated Franconia garrison last year, is requesting about $1.5 million to repair damage to base roofs and aircraft hangars that were battered during Windstorm Kyrill, which hit the continent on Jan. 18.
U.S. Army Garrison Hessen, which includes the Baumholder, Wiesbaden and Giessen garrisons, is asking IMCOM-Europe for about $1 million, while the Benelux garrison requested about $130,000. U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg is asking for about $394,000, according to officials with IMCOM-Europe, which runs Army bases in Europe.
IMCOM headquarters in Virginia will review the requests and availability of funds, and should reply in two or three weeks, according to Jack Gillund, an IMCOM-Europe spokesman.
Within USAG Hessen alone, about 44 incidents, including removal of debris and fallen trees, were cited in the request for extra funds that was sent to IMCOM-Europe last month, said Mark Holt, public works director for the garrison
Some of the most visible Kyrill damage was a roof that blew off a building in Baumholder. No one was injured when the roof of Building 8875 at Wetzel Kaserne came off late that night amid winds of up to 110 mph that roared through the hilly community.
For now, storm damage throughout USAG Hessen is undergoing “triage-type repairs,” mostly aimed at temporarily making things safe and preventing further damage using money and resources that are already in-house, Holt said.
“It’s like you had a hole in your tailpipe,” Holt said of fixing problems in the short-term while waiting for the long-term funding. “We’re going through the process of plugging the hole in the tailpipe, but you need a new tailpipe. Until I have the money in the budget, there won’t be the new tailpipe.”
Repairs costing between $200,000 and $300,000 were also made immediately in the Franconia area to prevent further damage, according to Larry Reilly, a spokesman for the European Region Transformation Group.
The first floor of the roofless building in Baumholder was being renovated to serve as a youth center. The German contractors who were already working on the facility are installing the temporary roof, Holt said.
“If the temporary repairs don’t hold, we’ll address the hazards,” he said. “Right now, we think we have everything taken care of to mitigate the safety risks.”
Stars and Stripes reporter Mark St.Clair contributed to this report.