FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Jan. 1, 2011) — Following up on a New Year’s Eve tornado that damaged or destroyed 159 homes, the garrison commander of Fort Leonard Wood will hold a town hall meeting at 10 a.m. this morning at the Stone Gate Community Center on Fort Leonard Wood to discuss the damage and response efforts.
This home near the corner of Delafield and Goethals was one of many destroyed by the New Year's Eve tornado on Friday.
In an internet posting issued shortly before 10 p.m. Friday night, Col. Charles Williams apologized for the “long delay in providing any update to the community” but noted that garrison staff had been focused on emergency response to the affected areas for the previous 12 hours since the EF-3 tornado hit shortly after 9 a.m. Friday.
For much of Friday, all non-mission-essential personnel were being turned away from the gates at Fort Leonard Wood. Williams cautioned people to continue to stay away from parts of the installation affected by the tornado.
“Damage on the installation is extensive in some areas, so please stay out of the affected areas (East of Specker Barracks and Oklahoma Ave and North of Davidson Fitness Center,” Williams said. “Sightseeing impedes our ongoing recovery operations.”
Those who want to help can contact the emergency operation center at (573) 563-4045.
Many people in the 159 damaged houses were on Christmas vacation and not on the installation, and while that likely reduced casualties — only four people on Fort Leonard Wood were hurt, none seriously — it also made accounting for personnel more difficult. A specialized search and rescue team from the Boone County Fire Protection District in Columbia came to Fort Leonard Wood with search dogs and heavy rescue equipment, but nobody was found trapped under the rubble.
Williams said accounting for residents and providing safety and security had been the first goal of emergency responders. Relocation of affected families came next, and efforts are underway today to restore essential utility services such as water, electricity and natural gas.
A total of 41 homes were destroyed, Williams said, with significant damage to another 32 homes.
As is often the case, early reports of utility damage were incomplete and in some cases incorrect.
- “Water on the installation is safe and has always been safe for consumption,” Williams said. “The water plant was severely damaged, but our team made emergency repairs and kept the water supply safe.”
- Electrical power was knocked out on Fort Leonard Wood for some time, but Williams said that by 10 p.m. Friday night, all housing areas have had their electricity restored, including Piney Hills. Natural gas service restoration efforts were expected to begin in Piney Hills this morning since gas is necessary for heat. Some areas on Fort Leonard Wood still do not have electricity, however.
- Road clearance work is expected to begin this morning about 10 a.m. to allow residents to move back into their homes.
Families needing help have been coming to Davidson Fitness Center, but that location will be moved to the Army Community Service office today where a claims center will be set up. People can also go to the lodging office at Building 470, the emergency operations center at the MANSCEN headquarters, or the Military Police station.
The dining facility at the 43rd Adjutant General Battalion will be open 24 hours until further notice, Williams said.
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