By Staff Sgt. Amber Grimm
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — A few weeks ago a summer storm swept across Peterson on July 28, raining down baseball-size chunks of ice and leaving behind a path of damage. The damage estimates are still being assessed and tallied.
Airmen from across Peterson chipped in to clean up around their workplaces and the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron tackled parks, medians and visitor areas to get the base back to normal. With some areas hit harder than others, volunteers from various shops came together to help out at those locations.
The Peterson Air and Space Museum was one of the areas hit hard with damage. Not a single outdoor static aircraft display escaped unscathed from the storm. Damage ranges from dimpling and dents to cracks in the metal, chipped paint and even a damaged windscreen.
“All aircraft on display here are on loan to Peterson from the National Air and Space Museum of the Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base out in Ohio,” said Jeffrey Nash, deputy director and curator of the Peterson Air and Space Museum. “We are responsible for repairing the damage done to all these planes by the hail storm.”
The tree limbs, leaves and other debris strewn across the grounds of the museum only added to the devastation of the damage done to the aircraft displayed. The assistance Airmen provided to help clean up the mess was appreciated by the museum staff.
“We appreciate the Airmen that came out to help,” said Nash. “We got all clean-up priorities done and filled about 50 large trash bags with debris.”
The museum also received assistance from the aircraft structural maintenance troops from the 302nd Airlift Wing, who helped with assessing the damage done to the structural integrity of the display airframes. Based on a rough estimate, Nash predicts that it will take at least $100,000 to even start on the repairs needed to preserve these pieces of Air Force history.
Base housing took a significant hit as well. The damage to personal property at the dormitories was extensive. A walk through the dorm parking lot showed almost every single car owned by Airmen was damaged.
“The body of my car looked like cottage cheese,” said Airman Mikey Stevens, Colorado Springs Regional Command Post controller and owner of a month and a half old car. “One look and I knew it was going to be a total loss.”
Some cars were completely totaled with loss of windows, windshields, rearview mirrors, and in some cases, holes punched through side panels. There was even interior damage from the shattered windows as hail continued to pound in. Stevens said hail even came through his shattered back window and punched holes in the speaker grills, ruining the system.
In family housing, approximately 850 windows were identified as broken during the initial inspection round performed by Tierra Vista Communities. Community managers are still working through assessments and don’t expect to be completed until September, said Staci Murphy, marketing coordinator and Tierra Vista Communities representative.
A company specializing in solar panels is on-site to appraise the full damage done to the power system. Currently, approximately 60 percent of the solar power system was turned off for evaluation and repair. Murphy said there is the possibility of roof damage that may cause leaks into the interior of the homes. Tierra Vista asks that residents continue to promptly report, via the service order process, any leaks that occur as they work towards permanent repairs.
While there is not yet an estimated date for the repairs to be finished, Tierra Vista Communities is working to assess and repair the damage and would like to pass on the following message to their residents.
“We appreciate the patience residents have shown during this time, and ask for continued patience as we continue to assess the damage and respond accordingly. Resident and employee safety and security is our top priority throughout the recovery of our community. We are continuing to work hard to ensure our community is fully restored as quickly as possible. Please continue to refer to our Facebook page and your email for updates as important resident communications are sent out. If you are not receiving our email messages, please contact the community center to update your information.”
Despite the damage sustained across Peterson, the base continues to remain fully functional due, in large part, to the outpouring of help from various base agencies and the continued dedication of the members of Team Pete.