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AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — The severe storm that touched down June 29 has left the base holding a cleanup and repair bill expected to run more than $3 million.

Two buildings — the Health and Wellness Center and the Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory — were heavily damaged and need overhauls. Nine people were injured in the storm.

The base also will request funds to replace 80 trees blown down in the storm and fix damaged roofs at various other locations, according to Capt. Anthony Figiera of the 31st Civil Engineer Squadron.

The damage amount does not include the destruction of one of the Army’s “clamshell” hangars or the Black Hawk helicopter inside it that was flipped over.

Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner of the U.S. Army Europe public affairs office said Army officials were still evaluating the damage caused by the storm, and no dollar estimate was available.

The figure also does not include damage sustained by private automobiles. About a dozen cars were damaged by falling trees or debris from buildings. The base’s legal office is accepting claims and will review them, according to a statement from the base’s public affairs office.

Repair work on the equipment lab, which was still under construction, has already begun and is expected to be completed in about a week, Figiera said. The price tag is about $80,000. Work on the wellness center has been delayed because asbestos needs to be removed before a complete survey of the damage can take place.

Work to remove the material should begin next month. Officials estimate it might cost $1 million to repair the facility.

The storm, which lasted less than an hour, also blew down trees and sent signs askew in areas outside the base. Winds on base reached sustained strengths of 50 knots and highs of 82 knots before the power was knocked out.

The storm had swept through Vicenza earlier in the day, but the Army reported no substantial damage to its facilities.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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