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Fort Irwin cleans up storm, flood damage

Aug. 26, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Storms and flash flooding Aug. 25 damaged facilities at Fort Irwin, Calif.
Storms and flash flooding Aug. 25 damaged facilities at Fort Irwin, Calif. (Army)
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Fort Irwin, Calif., is cleaning up Monday after monsoon rains flooded barracks, homes, administrative buildings, a dining facility and washed out two bridges, according to a post spokeswoman.

More than 40 soldiers were displaced from their barracks. Ninety homes, two squadron headquarters, a school and three barracks were left damaged by high winds, rain, hail and flash flooding, which struck for more than an hour Sunday. The training area was also damaged.

“It was an absolute monsoon yesterday,” Pamela Portland, a Fort Irwin spokeswoman told Army Times. “There was hail and very heavy winds.”

Maintenance personnel told Portland they had not seen that kind of damage in 31 years.

Fort Irwin, the home of the National Training Center on the edge of the Mojave Desert, supports roughly 4,750 active duty service members and 7,220 family members. The installation employs approximately 1,330 federal government employees and 2,640 contractor employees.

Some streets were still covered with mud and debris as the clean up continued Monday. Installation schools were closed.

Nearby storms left the installation without power on Aug. 18 and July 22.

“The electrical poles are are so brittle that when a storm goes through they come down,” Portland said.

Sunday’s storm, however, did not knock out power at the fort.

Assessments of the damage and it’s cost were still underway Monday, Portland said.

Elsewhere in the Southern California desert, the storm dumped several inches of rain, causing flash floods that stranded vehicles on roadways.

The California Highway Patrol shut an interchange near the Arizona border after thick mud stranded several dozen vehicles. Roadway flooding was also reported in several locations in the Coachella Valley.

The National Weather Service says monsoonal moisture from Tropical Storm Ivo dumped heavy rain in inland mountain and desert areas. More than two inches of rain fell on La Quinta, while the Borrego Springs area in eastern San Diego county saw three inches of rain in less than an hour.

The desert soil doesn’t absorb water fast enough, so the water dump results in flooding and debris flow in recently burned areas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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