Winter storm caused almost $4M of damage at Wright-Patterson

Air Force engineers responded to emergency calls at 39 buildings

Last month’s pre-Christmas storm caused about $4 million of damage at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, with record cold temperatures and damaged pipes forcing the days-long evacuation of five buildings, the base said Wednesday.

The winter storm “wreaked havoc on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base infrastructure,” the base said. In all, the 88th Civil Engineer Squadron responded to calls at nearly 40 buildings on the installation.

Photos released by Wright-Patterson show water leaking due to burst pipes into the Wright Field Fitness Center lobby and base building 10.

Another photo shows a downed light pole near the base flight line.

The base said personnel refrain from lowering thermostats at night during times of extreme cold. But burst pipes nevertheless resulted, as they did for many buildings across the region. Even the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus suffered extensive water damage last month.

The Dec. 23 winter storm broke a 50-year record in the region when a temperature of minus 9 degrees was recorded at Dayton International Airport, breaking a previous record low for that date in 1960, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

A boiler at the base’s Visiting Officer Quarters stopped working during the extreme cold, the base said. Personnel were forced to drain water systems and evacuate the buildings for multiple days.

“That seemed to open the floodgates and calls started pouring in,” the base’s 88th Air Base Wing said. “The squadron’s 24-hour control facility that receives maintenance-related emergencies fielded hundreds of emergency calls concerning 39 different buildings over Christmas weekend.”

Most calls reported freezing pipes but a light pole was also blown down, the base said.

The “uptick” in emergencies required deployment of additional personnel, the base said. Nearly half of the 88th Civil Engineer Squadron was running full-time during Christmas weekend responding to calls from both areas of the base, Daniel Jessup, squadron deputy, said in the base’s account.

The base said it recorded its fastest six-hour temperature drop (39 degrees) and fastest 12-hour drop (52 degrees) since 1947.

The Dayton Daily News sought additional answers to questions Thursday from the spokeswoman for the 88th Air Base Wing, the host unit responsible for Wright-Patterson.

With two geographic areas separated by Ohio 444, Wright-Patterson is the largest single-site employer in Ohio, with more than 30,000 uniformed and civilian employees.

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