Post-Hurricane Matthew cleanup begins for US military bases, surrounding communities
By CHRIS CHURCH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 9, 2016
Fort Bragg and other military installations in the Southeast were cleaning up and getting back to normal Sunday after Hurricane Matthew roared through the area over the weekend before turning into the Atlantic.
Fort Bragg, located near Fayetteville, N.C., resumed normal operations at noon Sunday at most facilities, including Womack Army Medical Center, although some including the South Post Food Court and the Pope Exchange remained closed due to damage or flooding.
A statement on Facebook said a “liberal leave policy” would be in effect for those who could not get to work.
“Clean up is going to be a full community effort,” the Facebook post said. “Work those legs and arms while the gyms are closed by consolidating fallen tree branches into piles and raking the pine needles out of the storm drains. … Let's also check on our neighbors and help them out with the yardwork. Units need to look beyond their unit footprint. This is, after all, the center of the military universe, so we have quite a bit of real estate to cover.”
At Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C., first responders were “actively working recovery and damage assessments for the installation,” where there was significant flooding, according a post on its Facebook page Sunday.
Urging “extreme caution,” the post said there were “reports of downed trees, flooded roads, and power outages,” though power had been partially restored. A post from Saturday said there were reports of flooding in housing areas and urged residents where water was rising to evacuate.
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, in Jacksonville, N.C., were working with local authorities to restore power following widespread power loss, said Nat Fahy, spokesperson for both bases. Once power is restored, possibly by Sunday afternoon, the bases hope to have community service facilities such as Marine Marts and fitness centers up and running, Fahy said, but it was hard to say when the bases would be back to normal operations.
There were reports of moderate localized flooding, though most major roads were drivable. Fahy said there were no reports of injuries, but there was one report of a tree branch falling into someone's roof.
The storm was stripped of hurricane status just before daybreak, but the crisis — set off by downpours of more than a foot — was far from over.
"As the sun rises in North Carolina and the blue sky returns, our state is facing major destruction and, sadly, loss of life," Gov. Pat McCrory said.
At Parris Island, S.C., Marines evacuated 6,000 trainees to an Army facility in Albany, Ga., in advance of the hurricane.
The storm dumped heavy rains and caused widespread flooding in the areas around the Marine base.
Officials said flooding and downed trees were preventing many civilians from returning home Sunday.
At Joint Base Charleston, a limited evacuation order was revoked Sunday only for hurricane recovery teams, according to a base Facebook post.
All others were instructed not to return to base, where an earlier post said there were power outages, damaged trees, minor damage to buildings and debris.
U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew McHenry with the 125th Multi-Role Bridge Company (MRBC), for the S.C. Army National Guard, uses a chainsaw to remove fallen trees along U.S. Highway 278 in Hilton Head Island, Oct. 9, 2016. Hurricane Matthew peaked as a Category 4 hurricane in the Caribbean and passed over the southeastern U.S., including the S.C. coast. Approximately 2,800 S.C. National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have been activated since Oct. 4, 2016, to support state and county emergency management agencies and local first responders after Governor Nikki Haley declared a State of Emergency.
BRIAN CALHOUN/U.S. ARMY NATIONAL GUARD PHOTO