CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — After hours of torrential rain overnight, 402nd Army Field Support Brigade personnel were greeted with an astonishing sight the morning of Nov. 19 -- flood waters of record proportion.
Soldiers and civilians alike were wakened to flooding in their Containerized Housing Units, known locally as CHUs, with the water in some rooms rising to more than two feet deep.
Some lower-level CHUs on the east end of the Army Materiel Command's housing area -- Wilson Willows -- were flooded. When residents of some bottom-floor CHUs opened their doors to look outside, water poured in, flooding their rooms.
"I woke up around 3 a.m. to a knock at the door. When I stepped out of bed, I stepped into a lake of water almost to my knees," said Marvin Anderson, 402nd AFSB, deputy S-3 (Operations). "As I made my way to the door, I saw the housing area was totally flooded."
The parking area adjacent to the affected CHUs was also flooded. The water level rose to approximately six feet, completely submerging a number of vehicles. The flood also caused dumpsters and water tanks to float freely, with some coming to rest atop vehicles.
Close to 30 vehicles were flooded.
Not only were CHUs in the AMC housing area affected by the flood, but other areas of Camp Arifjan were damaged, with some roads impassable.
Several factors contributed to the flooding.
First, according to the 14th Weather Squadron here, the heaviest rains recorded in 61 years over whelmed the drainage system. Second, the topography of the housing area was not optimal for such a rare weather phenomenon. Third, a tall berm surrounding the housing area became a temporary dam, causing water levels to rise rapidly.
Luckily, the berm was breached, sparing even more catastrophic damage.
As the flood waters receded, the 402nd AFSB team rallied together to salvage personal belongings and to begin cleanup efforts in the affected CHUs.
James Curry, housing manager for 402nd AFSB, and his staff worked tirelessly to bring things back to normal. Curry and his team assisted those in flooded CHUs by moving them to vacant units.
Debris floated up to three hours until the flood waters receded, leaving the area littered with trash and debris.
Everyone picked up debris, repositioned walkways throughout the housing area that was displaced by the flood waters, cleaned out CHUs by sweeping out and mopping up water, moving out mattresses, and throwing away water-damaged items.
During the next few days, several people from the battalions and the brigade staff pulled together to obtain belongings from the flood-damaged vehicles prior to having them towed away.
Although the flood was unfortunate, it displayed the 402nd AFSB's ability to join together and respond to an unexpected emergency.
"Although the storm was a tragic event, this was a great opportunity for our community to bond. Civilians, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marine residents of Wilson Willows and Power Village all assisted tremendously throughout the crisis," said Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Ferdinand, 402nd AFSB senior enlisted adviser. "This was a group effort in which all volunteered in working together as a team in the effort to restore the housing areas back to normal."