By Shellie-Anne Espinosa
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Leadership from the 21st Space Wing participated in a town hall hosted by Tierra Vista Communities on Nov. 17 at the TVC Community Center on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, to discuss the July 28 hailstorm repair status for base housing and changes to the Utility Allowance Program.
Col. Doug Schiess, commander of the 21st Space Wing, alongside TVC officials, addressed residents about their concerns with the progress of the repairs.
“I want to tell you that TVC has been working very hard, but I also want to tell you what I told them a couple days ago,” Schiess said. “I’m not pleased with the progress. I don’t think they’re happy with the progress and I think they’ll tell you some of that. This is the first storm that TVC has had to use their insurance company.”
TVC said they are now at a point with their insurance company to begin repairs, starting with windows, at the end of November. They expect window repairs to be completed by spring 2017.
“As with a response to any largescale natural disaster, following insurance company protocol and ensuring all work is done safely and correctly can be quite cumbersome,” said Jerry Schmitz, senior vice president and regional project director for Tierra Vista Communities. “The safety and wellbeing of our residents is of our utmost concern. Now that the insurance claim has been processed, we’re working to find the best contractors to repair our homes.”
On July 28, a storm moved through Colorado Springs producing baseball-size hail causing significant damage on and around Peterson AFB.
“The state of Colorado said it’s the sixth worst storm that Colorado has ever had and obviously a lot of damage occurred to your houses,” Schiess said to the TVC residents in attendance.
TVC stated there are a total of 1,681 windows and 504 roofs which need to be replaced, along with gutters, siding and garage doors needing repair. Solar panels that were visibly damaged have already been replaced and the remaining panels are currently being tested to ensure they are operating correctly. Additionally, their landscaping company has worked to remove glass from broken windows that landed in landscaping material throughout the community.
“We are a large community, and every resident is a priority,” Schmitz said. “When our residents need taking care of, we don’t cut corners. We’re confident that the end result will be worthwhile for everyone affected by the hail storm.”
Schiess emphasized that TVC has a plan for repairs, but residents will have to help them through the process.
“There are going to be times that they will have to get in your house to do the window fixes and you’re going to be impacted when the roofs are (repaired) for a period of days,” Schiess said. “We’re going to try our best, but we also want to get this done as fast as possible so we can get you back to what you wanted.”
Residents will be alerted 48-hours in advance of any repair work that is scheduled to take place at their homes. TVC personnel explained the first residences to have their windows replaced will be those buildings with four or more broken windows. After that, the repairs will be done according to a zone structure.
Schiess said he and his wife, Debbie, encountered a few residents who have been getting information from the contractors rather than TVC. He encouraged all residents to email TVC about any concerns they may have to ensure the information is accurate.
“You may have gotten information that wasn’t completely correct and then you’re making an assumption,” Schiess said. “So don’t wait. Go to the email and we’ll fix that right away.”
In addition to repairs, the town hall also addressed changes to the Air Force’s Utility Allowance Program. Many residents voiced their concerns about the changes, which have resulted in smaller rebates and even bills in some cases. Schiess and TVC both listened to the residents’ concerns and empathized with them.
“We want to try to make it as painless as possible and give you some ways to lower your utilities so that you’re not paying (a bill),” Schiess said.
“As a partner of the U.S. Air Force, we’re required to comply with the Utility Allowance Program,” Schmitz said. “We’re encouraged by the renewed focus on sustainability and conservation, and look forward to helping our residents embrace these values in their own homes.”
At the end of the town hall, Schiess reiterated the wing’s support of the families living in TVC.
“On behalf of the wing, we are definitely asking the questions and we’re making sure that (TVC) is doing regular updates and that’s what they want to do as well,” Schiess said. “We’re tracking this and we appreciate your patience.”
Residents who have concerns or would like more details on the repair progress are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.