RHEIN-MAIN AIR BASE, Germany — Two days after heavy rains flooded one of the busiest U.S. Air Force passenger terminals in Germany, volunteers continued cleaning up, as flight operations picked up at an alternate location.
Friday night’s 1½-inch downfall in less than 90 minutes caused drain systems all over the base to overflow, with water pouring into buildings from backed up roof and sewer drains, air conditioning systems, and even through fire escape vents.
Operations have moved from the terminal to Building 441, a warehouse that once was used for Air Postal operations. The terminal should be open again by Tuesday, according to base officials.
Volunteers and contractors are busy pumping water out of carpets, mopping up excess water and helping dry out ceilings and ducts.
“Yesterday it was so bad no one knew where to begin,” said Senior Airman Cameron Riley, who is one of 15 volunteers from the Security Forces section helping to get the terminal back running. “There was water everywhere, ceiling tiles were all over the floor, and we were in the dark.”
The excessive water damage also caused electrical, fire alarm and air conditioning problems within the terminal, according to Maj. Shawn Moore, the base engineer and civil engineering commander.
The initial clean up should be done within 72 hours, said Moore. Getting the terminal back to its former condition could take three to four months of work, Moore said, but he wouldn’t speculate on the long-term costs. He said base officials would take into consideration the fact that the base is closing in 1½ years when deciding what to replace in the terminal.
All cargo and passenger operations continued throughout the storm and the temporary closure of the terminal, but space-available flights are discontinued until the terminal is reopened. Also, flight information and customer service numbers are down while the terminal works out of the old warehouse.
“The most impressive thing about all this is that the team kept going without a hitch. They pulled together after a major catastrophe in a matter of hours,” said Brig. Gen. Rosanne Bailey, Ramstein Air Base’s 435th Wing commander who visited the damaged site Sunday. “I attribute this to the people who work together every day, great leadership from the top to the bottom, great dedicated members, and the best Air Force in the world.”
Friday’s flood also affected many basements and first floors on Rhein-Main and in the Gateway Gardens housing area.