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AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — The Health and Wellness Center, heavily damaged by a freak storm that swept across the base in June 2006, is open for business again.

Sort of.

Some personnel began moving back into the flight-line facility this week, with more scheduled to move in next week, according to Col. Michael Schaffrinna, commander of the 31st Medical Group.

The staff has begun scheduling appointments, although some functions — such as physical therapy — will remain at the base hospital until the move is complete.

The majority of the exercise equipment that the facility will house is on order from the States and might not be in place for several months, according to Capt. Mark McElroy, chief of physical therapy.

The storm, which featured hurricane-force winds, caused millions of dollars in damages to the base, with the wellness center building suffering some of the most notable damages. Several people sustained minor injuries when part of the roof was torn away and part of the ceiling collapsed.

The base spent almost $116,000 to remove asbestos and an additional $654,000 to repair the facility, according to Ken Watson, deputy commander of the 31st Mission Support Group.


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