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Army Chief of Staff coming to FLW tomorrow; town hall to be held tonight

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Jan. 3, 2011) — Post personnel have announced that Gen. George W. Casey, the chief of staff of the Army, will be coming tomorrow to Fort Leonard Wood to observe tornado damage.

Residents needing to verify the condition of their home may call Balfour Beatty, the privatized housing contractor handling Fort Leonard Wood housing, at (573)329-0122. In addition, Balfour Beatty will be holding a town hall meeting at 6 p.m., tonight, Jan. 3, at the Stonegate Community Center.

Today is a normal workday for most Fort Leonard Wood civilian employees but is a planned training holiday for military personnel; public affairs personnel announced Sunday that commanders will notify individual military personnel who may be required to report for duty for tornado recovery operations or duties involving today’s return of an estimated 8,000 trainees from holiday block leave.

Fort Leonard Wood personnel have held several town hall meetings so far. In a Sunday evening meeting, Col. Charles Williams, the post’s garrison commander, said he expected it would take three to five days before natural gas service was restored to some of the affected homes, but post personnel said the gas is already back on.

In a Monday morning announcement, Maj. Gen. David Quantock warned people arriving on post following holiday vacation to check with post officials before returning to their homes. Residents of the North Piney Hills housing area should report to the Family Assistance Center at Army Community Service (ACS), Building 486 between the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Jan. 3 to 7, or until further notice, post personnel said.

Services available at ACS include a claims center; child care is available to families taking care of business and claims paperwork at the ACS building. The ACS phone is (573) 596-0212; those arriving on post after 6 p.m. may contact the Emergency Operations Center at 573-596-0131, ext. 3-4045, for additional instructions.

USAA Insurance, a company whose clientele is active duty military, former military personnel and their families, has announced that they will open a second temporary claims filing location in addition to the off-post facility in St. Robert at American Legion Post 331. The second location in the Army Community Service office at Building 486 on Replacement Drive, is physically located on Fort Leonard Wood.

Further information on the two claims offices can be found on a section of the the USAA website with additional information on filing claims for the New Year’s Eve tornado, located at this click.

According to the company’s website, both temporary claims offices will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Damage levels vary in different parts of the post, and some homes remain largely intact even in heavily damaged areas.

“Residents of the North Piney Hills housing area living on Gridley Loop, Pick Place, Siebert Lane, Goethals Drive, Jadwin Drive, Newton Court, Taylor Place and Delafield Drive can expect moderate to severe damage due to the tornado,” according to Sunday’s press release, which also noted that the Piney Hills Community Center is closed and Oklahoma Avenue is closed to traffic.

During Sunday’s town hall meeting, Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Barteau advised extreme caution for residents returning to their homes, and said some safety precautions must be taken by returning residents. Barteau said if families returning find that there is no electricity or hot water, or if they find a gas smell, broken windows or structural and foundational issues, they should call (573) 329-4000 immediately to report these issues.

Thayer Elementary School will be open on Jan. 4. However, Barteau also asked parents not to allow their children to walk to and from school to prevent injuries from debris or ground holes.

Maj. Gen. David Quantock, the post commander, warned in a prepared statement issued Monday morning that “first and foremost, unless authorized, people without need or authorization must avoid all tornado damaged areas so that assessments and clean-up efforts can continue to take place safely.” While on-post personnel living outside of the immediate path of the storm will be permitted to return to their homes on Fort Leonard Wood, they may experience temporary utility outages as crews work to restore utilities to 100 percent operations.

Army Community Service is accepting financial and other donations.

According to post personnel, Operation Homefront expects to donate about 10 truckloads of furniture for tornado relief; additional items such as new clothing, food, drinking products, diapers, blankets, personal hygiene products, laundry soap, books, and children’s magazines are available at the USO to give away to those families in need.

The USO is also accepting volunteers offering their services as well as donations; needs include cleaning supplies such as brooms, mops and laundry soap, baby formula, men’s soap, men’s deodorant and shampoo. The USO will also accept furniture shelving, and other home décor, but bedroom furniture, clothing, and food are not needed at this time.

The USO is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day until further notice; the phone number is (573) 329-2039.

Numerous cars were destroyed by the tornado. For families who have no transportation, the Directorate of Logistics is providing transportation to the Post Exchange, dining facility and other places families need to go, according to DOL Director Joe Brown.

Those cleaning up their homes need a place to deposit storm debris.

  • Green debris such as trees and bushes is being collected at the compost site east of Range 1.
  • Building debris is being collected at Training Area 206, top field.

Some pets lost in the tornado have not yet been found. Post officials say that displaced pets from the tornado may be dropped off at the Small Animal Clinic, Building 2399; the phone number there is (573) 596-0094.  Families looking for their pets may also contact the Small Animal Clinic. Stray pet sightings may be reported to the Military Police (MP) front desk at (573) 596-6141 or the game warden at (573) 596-0596.

The Behavioral Health Services Clinic at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital is also providing walk-in services to servicemembers and families.

“When someone experiences a traumatic event, they focus first on basic needs and there is a latency effect where they may discover they need to talk with someone,” post personnel said.

The Behavioral Health Clinic is located in room 63 on the basement level of GLWACH and can be reached by telephone at (573) 596-0521.

Hours for the clinic are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday, and 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. After-hours behavioral health support is also 24 hours a day, seven days per week, through the GLWACH emergency room at (573) 596-0456.

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