After intense, unexpected rains flooded portions of Naval Air Station Sigonella, the community came together to support those impacted on base.
Forecasters predicted rain Sunday, Oct. 24, but they didn’t expect it to fall as quickly as it did. In fact, from Sunday through Monday more than 23 inches of rain fell, dumping the equivalent of a year’s worth of rain in 48 hours. At the Letini weather station near base, rain fell at a rate of 6 inches per hour during the height of the storm.
As the water rose, the base lost power, causing several pumps to fail around the base’s Marinai housing complex. Throughout the region, roads flooded making transportation impossible. Several homes were without power, and out of precaution the Public Works Department turned off the water treatment and wastewater facilities as the waters continued to rise.
By Monday, the base had restored full operational capability, but more than 60 homes in Marinai were flooded and a majority of the housing complex remained without water or electricity. The base was already hard at work to help the community.
Emergency Management and Public Works focused on pump and power restoration, returning power to all nine substations and procuring additional pumps to remove water from critical areas.
Community members jumped into action as well. Maranai residents broke out their grills to cook food for their neighbors and NAS Sigonella Installation Command Master Chief Anna Wood and her family hand-delivered meals via canoe, cleared debris, and offered assistance to those in need.
“During times like these, we have such a grand opportunity to teach our own children how to care for others,” CMC Wood said. “I am so very proud of our Sigonella family community as they continue to reach out to help those in need.”
Soon, Morale, Welfare, and Recreation and USO were on scene to hand out coffee and food as well, bringing those affected by the storm some much needed relief. The housing department worked quickly to move more than 90 people into temporary housing, ensuring their safety and comfort and begin inspections to start the process of remediating damaged houses.
By Monday evening, NAS Sigonella’s commanding officer Capt. Kevin Pickard and executive officer Cmdr. Ronald Cappellini toured Marinai, assessing damage and talking to residents.
“I’ve lived through floods as a kid and it’s the worst thing ever, having to dig your life back out of them,” said Pickard. “We can’t replace those kind things people own but we can restore their homes and their livelihoods. While everyone was caught off guard by the strength of the storm on Sunday, we are committed to ensuring we are better prepared in all ways for any future floods and protecting the people and property within our Sigonella community.”
As Monday drew to a close, forecasters warned the rain wasn’t over. …….