One of RAF Fairford's fuel operations compounds submerged by rainwater on Saturday.

One of RAF Fairford's fuel operations compounds submerged by rainwater on Saturday. (Steve Grace / Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)

European edition, Wednesday, July 25, 2007

RAF FAIRFORD, England — Base officials estimated Tuesday that last week’s monsoon-like downpours caused roughly $200,000 in flood damage to base facilities.

Ten facilities and eight housing units were damaged after 5½ inches of rain fell on Friday. The rainstorm, followed by additional rain over the weekend, flooded nearby towns and left thousands without running water. It also caused major disruptions in road and rail networks.

Minor flood damage on RAF Welford has been included in the $200,000 estimate.

On Tuesday, most of the water on Fairford had receded, with some still visible on the eastern portion of the runway. The base is fully mission capable and in a recovery period, according to Maj. Steve Grace, commander of the 420th Civil Engineering Squadron.

“We can still operate the same way we did last Thursday before the storm. We’ll just have to go in and do some cleanup,” Grace said, adding that the base plans to initiate work orders and hire contractor support in the near future.

Base personnel acted quickly during Friday’s storm surge to divert water from buildings and housing areas, using sandbags and barriers. Without those quick actions, Fairford’s 84-unit housing area could have had a few inches of water in almost every house, he said.

“We avoided significant trouble to our military families,” he said.

The base supports roughly 200 airman and their families.

Eight households weren’t so lucky. Those families have been displaced into temporary quarters on base, Fairford housing manager Linda Freeman said.

She said the housing area had about $30,000 in damage, but that amount may increase since her office received a few more reports of flooded homes on Tuesday.

“Carpet was actually floating in some of them,” Freeman said.

Fairford’s community center suffered the most significant damage as water seeped onto its carpets, hardwood floors and walls. The roof also was leaking.

“That’ll be the biggest price tag out of that $200,000; probably close to half of that,” Grace said.

Anticipated rainfall in the forecast that could cause even more flooding in the area isn’t worrying the base command too much.

“We’re pretty sure that we’ve seen the worst of it,” Grace said.

If the local community sees more flooding, the base could be adversely affected since it relies on off-base commercial power, he said.

“If they get a lot more rain north of here and off base, not only will that be a hardship to our folks who live in the local communities, but at some point we’ll have to worry about electrical systems,” Grace said. “That’ll be something we’ll have to take care of with backup power.”

He also said base personnel could assist local communities in flood relief, which they have already done with operations in the past, such as placing sandbags.

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