U.S. Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) like the rest of the desert southwest braced for the worst while preparing for Hurricane Hilary.
By Saturday it was downgraded to a tropical storm, but still brought steady rain up to one inch in some locations. Sunday, winds as strong as 59 miles per hour blew through YPG.
Tyler Pitts with the Directorate of Public Works received updates throughout the weekend on the situation on post from YPG’s range controllers and dispatchers. Pitts coordinated with Shearwater Mission Support (SMS) to have their crews respond once it was safe. The proving ground lost power on the Kofa Cantonment briefly when a pole toppled over.
“We had two-high voltage techs respond,” he said. “Two or three crew members checked on the downed pole, we sent carpenters to try to stop roof leaks at Child Development Center, and sent Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning technicians out to restart air conditioners such as the chapel’s.”
The Child Development Center sustained the most damage, with water leaking through the ceiling into the toddler and infant rooms. YPG’s Child and Youth Services Coordinator Sommer Cloinger analyzed the room ratios and decided the center could continue to provide childcare.
“I spoke to each parent individually on Sunday, when we made the decision that we were going to be open,” she said. “They were grateful. Others chose to keep their kids home. We had a lot of forgiving parents. The most import part was that our parents were very supportive with the actions that we took.”
By Monday morning there was little evidence that the powerful storm had passed through. Most of the damage noticed by those driving around were broken tree branches on the Howard Cantonment Area. SMS crews were out early cleaning up the debris quickly to ensure the safety of the installation.
“We’ve picked up branches and broken trees” explained Chris Rico with SMS’s grounds maintenance team. “We are cutting trees into little pieces.”
In all, a few trailers full of tree debris were hauled away to the landfill.
The YPG Public Affairs Office shared more than a dozen social media post and push notifications informing post residents and employees about storm predictions and road closures in the Yuma area.
Due to the diligence of the YPG team and the crews who worked over the weekend, the mission of testing equipment for the warfighter continues.
“These guys worked hard. They are always on call, and they are always willing to respond. A big thank you goes to them,” said Pitts.