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Yuma air station dries out from flooding

By Desert Warrior Staff | | January 28, 2010

One thing that makes Yuma such a vital aviation training site is its perfect flying weather approximately 95 percent of the year. Last week was that seldom seen 5 percent.

On Jan. 21, 2010, Yuma received more than 2 inches of rain and endured 51 mph winds from a northeast-bound storm that originated in the South Pacific, resulting in flooded station streets, leaking roofs, cancelled training and the early dismissal for nonessential personnel.

On average, January receives approximately 0.4 inches of Yuma’s expected 3 inches of annual rainfall.

Base Services Department at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz., went to work at 7 a.m. to combat the flooding by pumping water pooling on Meyer Avenue and later an overfilled water retention basin on the corner of Shaw Avenue and Quilter Street. Excess water was pumped from flooded areas to retention basins and onto Meyer Park near base housing.

Approximately 4.7 million gallons of water was pumped off streets and parking lots, said Jerry Deppen, station facilities maintenance manager.

Yuma is surrounded by high terrain in all directions, said Sgt. Michael Duval, weather forecaster. Due to the rate of rainfall, lack of drainage and sand’s poor absorption, areas flooded quickly.

“The desert does not conduct itself well in a rainstorm,” said Deppen. “BSD received numerous of trouble calls during the storm. We were basically running at full speed, setting up emergency generators for essential equipment and trying to keep everything running smoothly.”

In addition to pumps running, BSD also enlisted the help of two runway sweepers and a 3,000 gallon water truck to clear out rainwater in areas not deep enough for the pumps.

As the air station grappled with its own problems, assets were also tasked to help in other areas hit by the flooding.

Search and Rescue was called to Wenden, Ariz., a small town northeast of Yuma, to aid in the evacuation of the flooded town.

“Turns out we weren’t needed,” said Master Sgt. Russell Reale, SAR maintenance chief. “The La Paz County search and rescue did a great job of evacuating everyone.”

While the storm was a rare event, it’s not unprecedented, said Duval.

The rainy season usually ends in late March.

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