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Fort Irwin director of public works Muhammad Bari (center) explains damage caused by the Aug. 25, 2013, flooding of Fort Irwin, Calif., during a tour on Nov. 6, 2013. (From left) Fort Irwin garrison commander Col. Jon Braga, Congressman Paul Cook, Muhammad Bari, House Appropriations Committee's Paul Terry, and National Training Center commander Brig. Gen. Ted Martin.

Rebuilding and going green in 2014

Repair efforts continue at Fort Irwin after last summer's monsoon storm


FORT IRWIN • As 2014 begins, construction workers at Fort Irwin are still repairing major damage from last year’s flood season.

The Army base was battered by a series of thunderstorms in July and August of 2013, with the most damage coming in the aftermath of an Aug. 25 storm that flooded a significant part of the installation.

Leslie Ozawa, Public Affairs Specialist at Fort Irwin, spoke with Muhammad Bari, director of Fort Irwin’s public works department, about the damages in a December article on the Army’s official website.

“During this storm, over 160 buildings got minor to severe damage,” Bari said. “... We had leaking roofs, flooded basements and mechanical rooms, carpet damage, wall damage.”

The flurry of thunderstorms caused at least three major power outages last summer. 

The Aug. 25 monsoon storm caused extensive damage to Lewis Elementary School, with the school’s 651 students being forced to relocate to various temporary setups on the base.

Fort Irwin Director of Public Affairs Pamela Portland told the Desert Dispatch that according to several people in the installation’s public works department, the monsoon brought the most severe rain to the base in more than 30 years.

No injuries or deaths were caused as a result of the flood, according to Portland. Nearly five months later, the repair efforts on the base continue. The repair contracts, valued at more than $40 million, are managed by the Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District.

“In the days following the flood, all commands on Fort Irwin, its soldiers, family members and civilians, pitched in to restore and resume normal operations,” Ozawa said in his Army website article. “(W)ork continues on more permanent repairs, as well as on fixes to the post’s vulnerability to power outages and storm damage.”

Other projects on the base include the 5th Street Project, which began in September. Construction continues at the intersection of 5th Street and South Loop Road, with the aim of installing fixtures that will make it easier for larger trucks to make turns at the intersection.

The project was originally slated to be completed at the beginning of January, but according to a news release from Fort Irwin spokesman Jason Miller, the construction is now scheduled to be finished in April or May.

“Unfortunately, crews ran into some issues in December that needed fixing before they continued with construction, which pushed the end date further,” Miller said.

Long-term projects at Fort Irwin include a number of renewable energy projects, including current construction on a new, largely solar-powered hospital, to replace the current Weed Army Community Hospital. The $165 million hospital will have 90 percent of its energy produced by a two-megawatt solar energy system.

Another project in the works is a one-megawatt trash-to-energy facility, to be built on the base sometime in 2014. A separate, one-megawatt solar demonstration project will also be constructed sometime in the next year.

“These projects will help Fort Irwin shave its peak load; that will reduce our electricity bill. We still are quite a ways from being self sufficient, but these efforts are paving a way to become net-zero energy installation in near future,” Bari said.

Leslie Ozawa, Shea Johnson and Jose Quintero contributed to this report.

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