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Naval Air Station Sigonella personnel move a waterlogged sofa out of a home in the base's Marinai housing complex, Oct. 29, 2021. With floodwaters gone, residents and base officials are beginning clean up and the recovery process.
Naval Air Station Sigonella personnel move a waterlogged sofa out of a home in the base's Marinai housing complex, Oct. 29, 2021. With floodwaters gone, residents and base officials are beginning clean up and the recovery process. (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)

CATANIA, Italy — A cyclonic storm expected to wallop Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily again fizzled out, to the relief of base residents and officials who began to turn their attention to recovery efforts from earlier flooding.

The Catania area near the base saw 1-2 inches of rain Friday, said Capt. Kevin Pickard, NSA Sigonella’s commanding officer. Some local forecasts said the latest cycle of the storm could dump up to 12 more inches, but the Navy’s weather forecasters consistently anticipated much less, he said.

From Oct. 24-25, more than 20 inches of rain fell over 36 hours, setting off a chain of events that saw up to 2½ feet of water entering 68 units at the base’s Marinai housing complex and displacing 92 residents. A Navy Exchange mini-mart also was damaged.

The storm knocked out power, resulting in a temporary boil water order as a safety precaution. It also made area roads impassable, briefly isolating the base’s two sites and the housing complex from each other, Pickard said.

Worried about additional flooding as the storm rolled back into the area Friday, NAS Sigonella prepared for another major rain event, he said.

Those efforts included setting aside shelter space for residents and placing public works, housing and safety crews on alert.

“When we have the ability to do so, we are going to prepare for what we believe is the most realistic, worst-case scenario that we have, which is what we did in this case,” Pickard said.

A watermark line is visible on the exterior wall of a home in the Marinai housing complex at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Oct. 29, 2021. Torrential rains earlier in the week caused flooding on the base. About 92 people were displaced, being moved into empty residences in the complex or hotels in the area.
A watermark line is visible on the exterior wall of a home in the Marinai housing complex at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Oct. 29, 2021. Torrential rains earlier in the week caused flooding on the base. About 92 people were displaced, being moved into empty residences in the complex or hotels in the area. (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)
Naval Air Station Sigonella personnel at the base's emergency command center keep watch on weather, flooding and other potential issues, Oct. 29, 2021. A cyclonic storm brought 20 inches of rain in about 36 hours to the Catania, Sicily area near the base earlier in the week, causing significant flooding. A return of the storm on Friday brought lighter rain, much to the relief of residents and officials.
Naval Air Station Sigonella personnel at the base's emergency command center keep watch on weather, flooding and other potential issues, Oct. 29, 2021. A cyclonic storm brought 20 inches of rain in about 36 hours to the Catania, Sicily area near the base earlier in the week, causing significant flooding. A return of the storm on Friday brought lighter rain, much to the relief of residents and officials. (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)
Standing water remained in only a few scattered areas of Naval Air Station Sigonella, including this courtyard near the base's chapel, Oct. 30, 2021.
Standing water remained in only a few scattered areas of Naval Air Station Sigonella, including this courtyard near the base's chapel, Oct. 30, 2021. (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)
Extra pumps to push out rainwater remained at one of the retaining pond areas at Naval Air Station Sigonella's Marinai housing complex, Oct. 30, 2021. Earlier in the week, the area in Catania, Sicily, saw 20 inches of rain, resulting in dozens of base homes being flooded.
Extra pumps to push out rainwater remained at one of the retaining pond areas at Naval Air Station Sigonella's Marinai housing complex, Oct. 30, 2021. Earlier in the week, the area in Catania, Sicily, saw 20 inches of rain, resulting in dozens of base homes being flooded. (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)
The levee system around the Marinai housing complex on Naval Air Station Sigonella is designed to keep water overflow from nearby rivers from invading homes. The berms were built shortly after a flood in December 2005 damaged every unit in the complex, stranding 475 families overnight.
The levee system around the Marinai housing complex on Naval Air Station Sigonella is designed to keep water overflow from nearby rivers from invading homes. The berms were built shortly after a flood in December 2005 damaged every unit in the complex, stranding 475 families overnight. (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)
Residents of the Marinai housing complex on Naval Air Station Sigonella were pulling out damaged furniture and other items, Oct. 30, 2021, from homes that were flooded. The base had 68 units, seven of which were unoccupied, damaged by floodwaters earlier in the week.
Residents of the Marinai housing complex on Naval Air Station Sigonella were pulling out damaged furniture and other items, Oct. 30, 2021, from homes that were flooded. The base had 68 units, seven of which were unoccupied, damaged by floodwaters earlier in the week. (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)

On Saturday morning, just a few scattered areas of standing water remained on base and Marinai residents had started clearing water and damaged furniture out of their homes.

Couches, tables, chairs and other household goods were sitting in front of homes and near garbage bin areas. Waterline marks were evident on the exteriors of some homes and on vehicles. Many of those cars were irreparably damaged, officials said.

The NEX store, commissary and food court were open. One man standing in front of the commissary with his children told Pickard he was able to prevent damage to his home by soaking up water with towels.

“The community here is an incredibly resilient community,” Pickard said. “It’s amazing to see how quickly they bounce back from challenges. That’s what the community here at Sigonella has consistently done.”

Many of the displaced residents, including the base public works officer, Cmdr. Jason Christensen, were temporarily placed in other homes at the 526-unit complex. Others were taken to hotels in the area, base officials said.

Christensen’s home saw about 1 1/2 feet of water and two cars might be a total loss, he said.

Pickard said officials were working with the housing complex’s landlord to begin repairs as soon as possible.

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Alison Bath reports on the U.S. Navy, including U.S. 6th Fleet, in Europe and Africa. She has reported for a variety of publications in Montana, Nevada and Louisiana, and served as editor of newspapers in Louisiana, Oregon and Washington.
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