This U.S. Army photo taken by Sgt. Heather Denby shows soldiers checking military housing after a tornado struck Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., on Dec. 31, 2010.

U.S. Army Sharing Lessons of Quick Tornado Response

The Army Claims Service found ways to shorten the time needed to substantiate, process, and pay claims after a tornado hit Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., on Dec. 31, 2010, and the practices might be used throughout the military soon.

The Army Claims Service's quick response to a Dec. 31, 2010, tornado that damaged 159 housing quarters at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., could become a model for all of the U.S. armed forces, according to Henry Nolan, chief of the service's Personnel Claims and Recovery Division, who discusses the response in an article written by Donna Miles and published Jan. 19 by American Forces Press Service.

Nolan told Miles he and his team will share their story at a joint claims meeting later this month, and he hopes a joint task force will be created to formalize the same methods throughout DoD.

Miles' article says the service managed to waive some requirements used to substantiate claims and authorized rental cars for victims whose owned some of the 200 vehicles damaged or destroyed by the tornado. While 51 housing units were destroyed and more than 30 others were substantially damaged, no one fatalities and only four minor injuries occurred, probably because many residents were away for the holidays, Nolan told Miles.

To maximize what the victims could recover, the service's officials urged them to file claims first with the private company that manages the housing, then with their personal insurance company, and finally with the Army Claims Service, the article explains. Officials studied how insurers deal with similar incidents for ideas on how to determine the value of lost property; they considered obtaining the inventory lists from the commercial movers who had originally moved families into base housing or using the authorized weight of the household goods shipment to help determine a value, she wrote. Claims officials walked the properties with the victims to photograph and record details about their property. The service also received authority for victims to request reconsideration of a paid claim up to two years after the incident, rather than within the customary 60 days.

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