Fort Irwin chapels sustain major damage from local storm
September 6, 2013
By Leslie Ozawa
FORT IRWIN, Calif---Fort Irwin's two chapels, the Center Chapel and Black Horse Chapel, suffered major flood damage from a sudden Sunday afternoon storm Aug. 25. Fort Irwin's Center Chapel sustained major flood damage, as storm waters flowed across Barstow Road, surging up to 15 inches on the front lawn.
The flood waters entered from Center Chapel's front entrance, seeping up to the back third and fourth rows of pews, said the chapel's Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, Sgt. 1st Class Clifford Crum. Crum said water also surged through the chapel administrative wings' main entrance, damaging three offices and the chapel restrooms.
When Crum called Fort Irwin's senior chaplain, Chaplain (Col.) Terry McBride, about 6:30 that evening, he and his wife Becky were busy sweeping and pushing water from entering their own home from the patio. They were using two snow shovels they had brought with them from their former home in Colorado Springs.
For most of the evening, Chaplain McBride, Chaplain Assistants Sgt. 1st Class Clifford Crum, Spc. Brady Teaff, and Fort Irwin garrison First Sergeant Jeff Jackson worked to stem the flow of rushing water. Two National Training Center officers, "Ed" and Kevin," stopped by to help, after seeing the chapel lights on, while most of Fort Irwin was darkened by a power outage caused by the storm. A Fort Irwin firefighter patrolling the area that evening assisted by loaning them a shop vac. "We emptied the shop vac 25-50 times that night," McBride said.
McBride said the work done that night saved the chapel from closing the next day and allowed the chapel to continue its normal scheduled events throughout the week. "Although walls will need to be cut and dried, and carpet will need to be replaced, we are business as usual, because of great people and their spiritual resiliency," McBride said. "Everyone who helped out on Sunday night attends one of our many chapel services. They are part of our family; they are part of the body of Christ."
Black Horse Chapel, a few blocks away, did not fare as well. The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment chapel was flooded completely up to the altar, including its classrooms, according to the chapel's NCOIC, Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Roldan. The chapel's carpeting was completely damaged, as water rose up to a quarter inch above the base of the chapel pews.
Sgt. 1st Class Roldan and Chaplain Assistant Spc. James Myers spent the evening trying to slow the water rushing in, but it was too strong, even seeping in from the walls.
"The water came through the back door," Roldan said, in an interview two days after the storm. Water came around, very muddy water. The room next to us was a lake."