FORT SILL, Okla.--As thousands of people endured power outages in the wake of the region's second intense winter storm this season, Fort Sill leaders gathered to determine plans to clean up debris and restore the post to full operating capability.

"New challenges may emerge, so we need to remain diligent," said Maj. Gen. David Halverson, USAFCOE and Fort Sill commanding general. "I know our Soldiers, families and civilians will continue to show their resilliency and leadership during this crisis."

Despite the heavy layer of ice, damage to buildings and houses and the loss of more than 1,000 trees, Col. Raymond Lacey, garrison commander, spoke of the good that resulted from the storm.
"I'm proud of all the hard work the garrison team put in, and the good news is there were no serious accidents or injuries during this difficult time," he said. "This truly was an example of the Team Sill, Oklahoma Pride initiative and how people coming together can overcome even the most difficult circumstances."

Lacey said post leadership immediately recognized the potential in this storm to become a severe storm and positioned equipment at key areas around post to speed up cleanup efforts.

At its high point, the storm displaced almost 1,200 people and left around 1,800 other Team Sill members without essential services on and off post. Garrison officials estimate 500 of the damaged trees will be removed. However, plans are in place to replace all trees destroyed in the storm. As of Monday morning, Directorate of Public Works cleanup crews were out sawing up downed timber and opening blocked thoroughfares. Also, power was restored to 90 percent of housing on post. Lacey said the southern half of Artillery Village and individual houses throughout post housing that suffered direct damage to feeder power lines became the focus of crews who restored power to these units.

Because so many people affected by the storm lived off post, Fort Sill provided warm beds for about 45 people each night who were displaced from their homes. Base dining facilities also opened their doors to these people. In addition, another 200 people visited post to shower and get cleaned up at the fitness centers before returning home.

Lacey reminded people there's still a great deal of work to be done and asked for their cooperation in all matters. He said if anyone is still experiencing power outages, whether in an office or base housing, don't assume it's been reported. Call the Directorate of Public Works for office outages or Picerne Military Housing for housing power.

He also thanked post residents who contributed to the cleanup actions but reminded everyone not to put tree limbs or other debris in the dumpsters as this will only add unnecessary material to landfills. People should stack debris on the side of the street, and it will be picked up and hauled off to one of two debris collection points on post. Plans are being developed to locate large wood chippers at the collection points to further reduce the volume of debris. Lacey also reminded people to let professionals deal with limbs stuck in power lines.

Having formed a task force charged with overseeing the cleanup effort, plans call for quickly and safely reducing and removing debris to restore operational capability throughout post. Most cleanup will be completed during duty hours and not impact off-duty hours or weekends. Through Monday, East and West range training facilities were without power and Hoyle Bridge was closed due to heavy ice accumulation.

Personnel at the staff judge advocate office suggested people save all receipts related to the storm, such as gas, generator and food purchases. OSJA is checking to see if federal or state agencies may reimburse these expenses.

Because some areas outside the post are still without power, people are reminded to follow manufacturer's guidelines when operating generators to avoid buildup of carbon monoxide in living areas.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16