By Col. Travis Harsha
CMAFS installation commander and 721st Mission Support Group commander
CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. — Communities are defined by how well their people come and work together, especially in times of crises, to make them safer and better. Forged in the crucible of fires and floods, the Colorado Springs community is stronger than ever. Like our community, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station was overwhelmed with record rainfall and flash floods recently.
On the night of Sept. 12, CMAFS experienced a major landslide, when an estimated 7,200 cubic yards of mud, rock and forest debris cascaded down the mountain and blocked the north portal, the primary entrance to the underground complex. Fortunately, no one was injured and there was no operational impact inside the mountain. With record flooding, our people and drainage systems were overwhelmed. Subsequently, we reached out to the surrounding military and civilian community for help.
Soon after requesting help, Fort Carson had engineers from the 615th Engineer Company, 52nd Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, on site with heavy equipment removing debris from the portal. By Sept. 14, engineers had a single-vehicle lane open to the north portal. And despite heavy rains Sept. 15 and 16, they were able to open two lanes of traffic by Sept. 18 and re-channel water into drains instead of further into the north portal or around NORAD Road, which suffered erosion.
Further downstream, Peterson’s 21st Civil Engineer Squadron and CMAFS’ 721st CES opened clogged culverts, re-channeling water away from Broadmoor Bluffs and mitigating further NORAD Road erosion. Their efforts coupled with Fort Carson’s efforts enabled the north portal and NORAD Road to safely re-open and allow all CMAFS personnel back to work by Sept. 19. In addition, Peterson’s 21st and 302nd Force Support squadrons helped feed personnel, and the 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron provided round-the-clock shuttle service to safely transit personnel in and out of the underground complex.
In addition to military assistance, CMAFS received help from Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Springs Utilities and Colorado Springs Fire Department Station 16 to advise and assist in mitigating flood damage to CMAFS and surrounding Broadmoor Bluffs community.
I am extremely proud of our CMAFS personnel and surrounding community. In short, we had “one team, one fight” seamlessly and flawlessly working together, just as we have had in the past. We sympathize with all affected by this natural disaster. We know we will recover and make our community safer and better working together.
On behalf of the men and women of CMAFS, thank you Colorado, Colorado Springs, Fort Carson and Peterson AFB for helping us recover and epitomizing a great and strong community.