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About 100 of the nearly 500 families evacuated from Naval Air Station Sigonella’s Maranai housing area have returned to their homes.

Several days of heavy rain in mid-December flooded the NAS II complex and Maranai, which are less than a mile apart on the Catania plain, causing about $3 million in damage.

Of the 526 townhouse-style homes in the complex, nearly 90 percent sustained some level of water and mud damage. Between 12 and 15 of the units were unoccupied at the time of the floods.

Cleaning crews hired by the property owner have been reopening between 8 and 12 units a day, said base public affairs officer Lt. Jon Groveman. The housing area is leased by the Navy, and the flooding repairs are being handled by the owner.

“They’re meeting all deadlines,” said Groveman, who said base officials expect to have all units reoccupied within 90 days.

Some aren’t waiting for the cleaning crews.

“Families are cleaning their own homes,” Groveman said. “They want to help, they want to clean their own homes.”

Whether the work is done by a cleaning crew or by the residents themselves, Groveman said, all units are inspected by a team of base officials from the public works department, fire department and base hospital for safety and sanitation reasons.

“They’re getting a full inspection … before anybody’s being allowed to move back in,” Groveman said.

Those displaced by the floods have been moved to a number of places in the area, including local hotels and other housing areas.

With the large numbers of people displaced from their homes, the base galley had a hopping Christmas. Groveman said it served 700 meals that day, a record for the base.

The base also held a holiday party, giving out gifts donated by Commander, Navy Installations.

“They really did a great job of overcoming the fact that this natural disaster happened and people are still out of their homes,” Groveman said.


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