NEWS | Nov. 15, 2018

Soldiers Respond to Flooding at Camp Arifjan

By Staff Sgt. Andrew Carroll U.S. Army Central

“In the words of Forrest Gump, ‘It just kept raining;” said Army Sgt. Andrew Garden, a wheeled vehicle mechanic assigned to the 949th Veterinary Services Detachment, 8th Medical Brigade, as he plunged his shovel once more into the brown water to bring up another scoop of sand.

With plenty to go around in the middle of the Arabian Desert, Garden was using the sand to fortify some sandbag walls he and other Soldiers had built in the early morning hours. They had been forced out of bed after waking up to a massive rainstorm that had flooded parts of Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

“Our barracks started to take on water, so that’s when we came out and started digging,” Garden said.

Dozens of Soldiers from multiple units were forced out of their beds and into the waters by a rainstorm that began late Wednesday night and continued into the early morning hours of Thursday. They emerged from their buildings, some still in pajamas, and set to work digging trenches and filling sandbags to divert the water that surrounded them.

“It was a team effort, a lot of people pitched in. Digging holes, digging trenches, moving sandbags, it was good to see multiple units come together”

Kuwait has experienced significant rainfall over the past weeks, but Wednesday evening was particularly harsh. Torrents of water cut rivers into the ground, washing away sand and gravel and depositing it on the blacktop roads.

Spc. Colin Davidson, a horizontal construction engineer with the 92nd Engineer Battalion, arrived in Kuwait three months ago, and said he wasn’t expecting to see this type of weather during his time in the desert.

“We got here in August and it was dry, the middle of the desert. All of the sudden it’s the middle of a lake,” said Davidson.

Pointing at two concrete barriers laying on their sides, Davidson was also impressed with the power of the water.“Those T-barriers are at least 3,000 pounds each and it’s just washing them away like nothing.”

Sand-covered foot paths were now rushing streams of floodwaters making their way to lower ground.

“We came down with a grater and created a v-ditch so the water would have somewhere to run, and then we tried to slope the dirt away from the buildings...the water has a mind of its own.”

Davidson said the engineers were doing what they could to move the water away from the barracks, running 24-hour operations, and putting all of their available equipment to work.

Despite the unpredictable weather, Davidson said the engineers were happy to be out in it.

While taking a break from dredging wet sand, Garden said, he too felt a sense of pride in spite of the storm.

He added, “It makes you feel like you accomplished quite a bit.”

Garden picked up his shovel, and got back to shoveling sand to stop the floodwaters that rushed across the desert floor. More rain is expected tomorrow.