Around 30 Spangdahlem families displaced by deadly floods in Germany


Dozens of U.S. Air Force families stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany have been displaced from their homes after heavy flooding hit the area last week, a spokesperson for the Air Force Times told Air Force Times. 52nd Fighter Wing.

Nearly three inches of water fell over western Germany and neighboring countries during a 12-hour period that began at noon on July 14 and caused deadly flooding in the area. A total of three months of rain fell in the space of three days, according to the US military.

At least 165 people are said to have been killed from Monday evening, according to the German publication Deutsche Welle. The US military said another nearly 1,300 people are missing starting Monday.

About 30 families moved into temporary accommodation on the base after their homes were badly damaged by flooding, 52nd Fighter Wing spokesman Captain Erin Recanzone said on July 16. Others saw only minor leaks resulting from the flood. Base officials coordinate the delivery of clothing, food and personal hygiene items to those in need.

Eighty percent of Spangdahlem’s population lives in the local community, and their rent payments may be reduced or suspended while houses are partially or totally uninhabitable, the air force said. Families can use this money to pay for a rental hotel or apartment instead.

Homeowners are responsible for repairing Airmen homes, although tenants must pay to replace most damaged furniture, the service added. Either party can end a lease if it is too expensive to renovate a house, such as structural restoration, or if the work takes too long.

It is still unclear how many of Spangdahlem’s approximately 5,000 military and civilian employees suffered from the effects of the natural disaster. Everyone assigned to the base is safe, Recanzone said.

“It was a totally disaster area. Just complete devastation ”, says Christoph Himbert, a firefighter from the US Army Rheinland-Pfalz garrison who responded to the city of Trier, about 20 miles south of Spangdahlem. “The streets had several feet of water flowing over them, cars had taken off and were buried in mud, houses were damaged and debris was everywhere. “

Spangdahlem himself, who flies F-16 Fighting Falcon jets in support of US and NATO military objectives abroad, escaped extensive damage.

“The flooding at the base was minimal and the civil engineering team worked quickly and efficiently to mitigate water discharges and deal with facilities that suffered minor water damage,” Recanzone said.

Water intrusions and damage occurred in around 20 facilities, mostly in basements with “little or no impact on the mission,” they added.

Although the base water is potable, parts of the region are still subject to an indefinite boil water advisory.

As recovery from the storm began over the past week, wing personnel delivered over 1,800 filled and unfilled sandbags to their local neighbors and helped redirect water out of the area. . Residents temporarily lost power as well as phone and internet services, and Spangdahlem asked staff to save water for activities such as washing dishes and clothing.

“It is difficult to say at this time how long the cleanup efforts will take,” Recanzone added. “The base works tirelessly to provide support to Airmen and their families who are in need. “

The Air Force is still recovering from the effects of other major natural disasters on its facilities in recent years, including a hurricane that hit Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. In 2018 and flooding at the base. Aerial of Offutt, Nebraska, in 2019. Rebuilding from these events is expected to cost around $ 6 billion over several years.

Rachel Cohen joined the Air Force Times as a senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has been featured in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), The Washington Post and others. .

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