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Power knocked out to much of post; dozens of homes wrecked on FLW

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Dec. 31, 2010) — As the sun went down on New Year’s Eve, most of the housing areas for officers and senior enlisted personnel at Fort Leonard Wood remain without electricity. Temperatures are expected to dip into the 20s tonight, and some of Fort Leonard Wood’s upper-level personnel have had to evacuate their homes due to damage following a major tornado that ripped through the post this morning.

Emergency arrangements have been made to host families in Davidson Fitness Center; rescue personnel and emergency workers worked for hours on the scene of a heavily damaged housing area.

The extra personnel summoned earlier from neighboring civilian fire departments have returned to their own stations. St. Robert firefighters left Fort Leonard Wood shortly before 7 p.m., firefighters from Crocker, Doolittle, and Tri-County left earlier, and by 7 p.m. Waynesville firefighters were the only outside department remaining on Fort Leonard Wood to handle routine calls. Even they left the scene by 7:45 p.m.

That also included Task Force One of the Boone County Fire Protection District, which sent a major disaster team to the post with search dogs and heavy equipment to deal with a disaster that Fort Leonard Wood spokesman Jeff Maddy said has destroyed at least 12 homes beyond repair, seriously damaged more than a dozen others, and caused lesser damage throughout the installation.

“Laclede Electric has apparently called in every available lineman and lineperson in their service area and they are doing a tremendous job restoring electricity to parts of Fort Leonard Wood,” Maddy said. “In some areas there is too much rubble and trees, but they are doing a fantastic job.”

That’s a major change from what conditions were like earlier in the day, Maddy said

“When I got here, the lights at the main gate were working, but after that they weren’t, but I haven’t been all over post,” Maddy said.

None of the major damage affected the barracks areas used by Fort Leonard Wood trainees, Maddy said; basic trainees will still report to post as scheduled and those present have not had their living areas significantly damaged.

“That side of post did not get hit at all from what I understand; the tornado totally missed that area,” Maddy said. “Training, regardless, will commence on the third of January. If there is a need to work around they will do.”

Damage off Fort Leonard Wood was minimal, according to Lawson Smith, Pulaski County’s director of emergency management.

“(The tornado) was out there around Cannon Range; it came in the bottom of the Fort by Laclede County and then came through Fort Leonard Wood in a northeasterly direction and then went at an angle toward Phelps County,” Smith said. “As it migrated over to Phelps County, they got hammered, but we just got rain and a little bit of hail. Whatever happened on Fort Leonard Wood was the heart of our damage to the whole county.”

The only reports of damage from off-post sources were in Waynesville where some power lines were knocked down, Smith said. Some wind damage happened but not even significant cases of trees knocked down across roads, he said.

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