What have Onslow military bases accomplished since Hurricane Florence?

2022-10-08 15:13:03 By : Mr. Simon Zhao

Onslow County military bases sustained record damages during Hurricane Florence four years ago and although much has been rebuilt and repaired there is still a lot to be done.

Water intrusion was the biggest impact on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, causing damage to roofs, ceilings, insulation, heating and air conditioning systems and utilities, according to a recent news release from MCIEAST-MCB Camp Lejeune.

"Across MCB Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River, 388 buildings sustained roof damage, 319 facilities experienced interior damage, including 41 buildings that needed HVAC repairs and 68 additional facilities required full building renovations," the release read. "Nearly 116 trailers were brought in for temporary work areas. Additionally, the excessive flooding resulted in 70 culvert washouts on roads and trails, and significant damage to two railroad trestles, Onslow Beach Bridge, the flight line and hangar doors on MCAS New River."

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In addition to this, more than 60% of the nearly 6,200 homes served by Atlantic Marine Corps Communities (AMCC) across MCB Camp Lejeune, MCAS New River and MCAS Cherry Point sustained damage of varying degrees, the release said. This left installation communities with many uninhabitable homes, forcing the relocation of hundreds of families.

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By the end of 2019, the release said AMCC had completed repairs to over 3,000 homes and demolished more than 30 of the most severely damaged homes. Since then, about 150 more homes have been repaired. The release added Lendlease Marketing Manager Staci Burton said nearly 150 more homes should be fully repaired by the spring of 2023, and they hope to demolish the final 200 uninhabitable homes in the future.

However, there is currently no exact timeframe for the demolition of those homes as AMCC's top priority is to complete repairs on the remaining homes so they can be made available to military members and their families wanting to live on-base, Burton said in an email.

She added AMCC does not plan to rebuild these homes at this time, but to transform the area into greenspace.

"Initiating demolition of the remaining 200 uninhabitable homes also entails a lengthy process that includes acquiring financial resources, requesting mortgage holder consent for demolition, military partner agreement, obtaining a third-party contractor, the physical demolition, and preparing the land for greenspace," Burton said. "The hope is to complete demolition to these homes by the fall of 2024, but the exact timing is contingent upon the above mentioned process."

The release said $3.6 billion in new construction and repairs are currently flourishing across the base and air stations with a heavy emphasis on ensuring the new infrastructure is able to withstand future weather events.

This includes standing-seam metal roofs on all buildings that sustained roof damage. Over 56% of the contracted building repairs are complete, but the rest of the renovations are scheduled to be finished by next fall.

"The first new building scheduled to be completed will be a state-of-the-art fire station located at Courthouse Bay, slated for spring of 2023," the release said. "Located well away from the floodplain, it will feature numerous upgrades to include six drive-through bays and serve as a destructive weather shelter for firefighters."

The release said that according to MCB Camp Lejeune Fire Chief Glenn Zurek, two other fire stations that sustained major water intrusion are also in the process of wrapping up repairs sometime this fall.

Those stations are at Midway Park and Paradise Point.

The release said other Florence-financed replacement buildings and infrastructure will start to come online throughout 2023 and conclude in 2025.

"These will include headquarters buildings, school houses, mess halls and new facilities for Naval Criminal Investigation Services, Legal Services Support Section-East, the Provost Marshal’s Office, as well as a combined school house and training hangar for the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit New River and a bachelor enlisted quarters on MCAS New River," the release said.

Two railroad trestles over the White Oak River and Queens Creek River are also being replaced, according to the release, and are scheduled to be complete in the spring of 2024. The trestles will accommodate the rail transport of equipment and supplies between Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point.

The 70-year-old swing bridge at Onslow Beach that accommodated boat traffic in the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway is also being replaced by a single-leaf Bascule bridge, according to the release. That project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2025.

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Another building expected to come online in the spring of 2023, the release said, is a simulation center for II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF). The facility will be 54,000 square feet, cost $40 million and be the support hub for three simulation programs of record.

"These include the provision of a deployable suite of computers containing simulation training a unit would take with them, a fire and maneuver trainer that supports units ranging in size from individual to regimental staffs and a Marine Air-Ground Task Force Tactical Warfare Simulation to exercise staff training across geographically distributed areas in preparation for MEF and joint task force certification exercises," the release read.

According to Deputy Director of the II MEF G-37 Simulation Department Trey Mangus in the release, the building is the first purpose-built simulation facility on Camp Lejeune. He said it is being built with the understanding that simulations are going to be a growing and evolving training tool in the Marine Corps and joint forces.

Reporter Morgan Starling can be reached at mstarling@gannett.com.