Fort Belvoir responds to storm damage
July 6, 2012
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (July 5) -- Fort Belvoir's Installation Support Services and Directorate of Emergency Services personnel conducted major repair and clean up operations in response to wide-spread damage sustained during a severe thunderstorm that swept across the post June 29.
The storm brought winds in excess of 70 mph that damaged or took down a number of trees and utility poles and resulted in the loss of electrical power, communication lines and internet connectivity over a large portion of the installation.
"Between the housing areas and all of the other buildings, I would say about 50 percent of the installation was without power," said Frank Hentschel, Directorate of Emergency Services, deputy director, Monday.
According to Rich Gillen, Dominion Virginia Power, project and compliance coordinator, the bulk of the power outages occurred in the residential areas of Fort Belvoir, as well as Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, the Warrior Transition Battalion, Davison Airfield, the Community Center, Commissary, Post Exchange and four Child Development Centers.
All told, seven Dominion personnel, five contractor foremen and 28 line crewmen operated 11 bucket trucks and 5 auger trucks to replace more than 20 broken utility poles.
"Approximately 14 spans of overhead primary wire were down, 10-12 additional spans of overhead lines were affected by trees, two overhead transformer banks on the ground and two overhead switches were damaged. Multiple other locations sustained smaller scale damage," Gillen said.
Hentschel added the installation handled tree removal and physical infrastructure repairs through its own internal agencies and directorates and crews made good progress in bringing the post's roadways and facilities back to operational levels.
"The work is primarily being done by Installation Support Services, with overall management provided by the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security as well as the Directorate of Public Works," he said Monday. "So if there's a tree across the road, we will block off the road, call DPTMS and tell them we need a work order in to get a tree removed and ISS comes out and removes it. And there's (already) a huge difference between yesterday at this time and today."
"We're doing pretty well considering how major this problem was," said Paul Gillespie, Installation Support Services, division manager. "We got all the main roads opened Saturday and Sunday. There's still a lot of debris we're trying to get to; we're focusing on parking lots now, getting the debris piled up so we can collect it later. But we had such a good turnout (of volunteers) and such great help from the people on post. People not coming to work Monday helped tremendously."
According to Ken Christiansen, DPW operations manager, ISS received between 150-200 damage reporting calls over the weekend which kept the agency informed and operations properly directed.
In addition to their role as first responders in the storm's aftermath, ISS also provided emergency backup power generators to priority areas of the installation.
"We implemented generator services for places like the fuel point here on post, to provide fuel for the government vehicles and we had to use a generator at our facility for our fuel. We have a good (communication) system in place, though, so when things go from bad to worse, we know who to call and get the word out."
Gillespie also said that people who work and live at Fort Belvoir helped the clean up and restoration effort by staying in contact with ISS with reports of downed trees, utility poles and power lines.
"We need to know where the damage is; don't ever assume we already know where it is," he said. "The best thing is just making a call to our work order center at (703) 806-3109; even if it's a duplicate call, we will automatically know about the problem. We go through those calls and we've kept up with them with a log since the minute this thing hit. We had people here within three hours of the actual storm. We have a system that works. We worked in conjunction with DPW and we were constantly on the phone with Ken Christiansen in their operations department and director Bill Sanders. We were all out here Saturday and Sunday."
In terms of the restoration of electricity, Dominion Virginia Power made significant progress Sunday in reestablishing electric service to Fort Belvoir. Dominion expected the remainder of the post's service to be restored quickly.
"We anticipate the majority of Fort Belvoir will be restored by midnight Monday, but we will continue working Tuesday to restore power to any remaining isolated areas and any of the areas where greater than anticipated damage is encountered," Gillen said Monday.
He added, as of 9:30 p.m. Sunday, electrical service in the following areas had been restored: Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Warrior Transition Battalion, Davison Airfield, Building 2444, Fisher House, Community Center, Child Development Center, Dining Facility Building 1822, Commissary, Post Exchange, Jackson Loop, 2100 area, CDC Building 1207, CDC Building 1744, and CDC Building 1028. Residential areas with restored power include Woodlawn Village, Lewis Heights, George Washington Village, River Village, Herryford Village, Vernondale Village and Collier Village.
Virtually all the following areas of the post had power restored by midnght Monday: the 300 area; Defense Logistics Agency (complete restoration); Bowling Center; Golf Course; Child, Youth and School Services Building 950 and Youth Center Building 1003. Residential areas slated to have power restored by midnight Monday included Dogue Creek, Belvoir Village, Fairfax Village, Russell Loop, Gerber Village, Jadwin Loop, Cedar Grove and Park Village.
For residents of the post housing areas, financial management of storm damage affecting their homes has become a concern as well.
"We provide renter's insurance through Alliance Insurance, (703) 888-5088, and they will provide coverage for damage, food spoilage and even hotel stays if necessary, up to $20,000 coverage per occurrence," said Jeff Hopkins, Fairfax Village Management Office, Executive Homes Coordinator.
People who reside off post should contact their respective insurance agents to ensure their coverage is working for them.
For updates on electric service restoration on post, contact Gillen at (703) 943-9384. For updates regarding tree removal and clean up operations or to report damage, call the ISS work order center at (703) 806-3109.
Editor's Note: This story was written July 2 utilizing the information available at the time.