Fort Hood is in the final stages of preparing for a post-wide blackout Tuesday. The energy resiliency readiness exercise is part of the Department of Defense’s “black-start” program, Fort Hood Garrison Commander Col. Chad Foster said while a special guest on the Fort Hood’s Great Big Podcast.
According to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, a “black start” exercise “refers to the ability to start an electrical system from a complete shutdown state: when no generating assets are operating and the high voltage transmission and low voltage distribution lines are de-energized.
The Air Force Department also said an energy resiliency readiness exercise, which shuts off incoming commercial power for eight to 12 hours, tests on-site backup systems while identifying gaps in energy and water supply and mission capabilities.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2021 states that all military departments must conduct a minimum of five black boot drills per year, according to the Air Force Department.
During the podcast, Foster said he and Fort Hood officials anticipate problems when power is restored.
“I expect that when we get the power back on, we could potentially have a great adventure because we’re going to figure out what the issues are,” Foster said. “When we put the power on, I think there will potentially be areas where the power doesn’t exactly come back.”
He added that “robust response teams” will be on standby to address any issues related to power restoration.
Soldiers, family members and those who work at Fort Hood can expect the power to go out at 8 a.m.
Fort Hood had originally scheduled an Energy Resilience Readiness Exercise for 2021, but scrapped plans after the region was devastated by a historic winter storm.
“Following the Uri winter storm, I think we were all like, ‘Wow, we don’t really need to practice disaster contingencies anymore,'” Foster said.
In addition to the main cantonment office buildings, the 12 villages of Fort Hood Family Housing will also be without power.
Foster said on the podcast that he’s received several questions about why the post is doing the drill and shutting off the power to living areas.
“We are planning for this pain so that we are better prepared for the future,” he said, adding that it will be difficult on execution day.
In a Q&A, Fort Hood addressed the question of what to do if food spoils.
The message’s response read, “If you keep your fridge/freezer closed, you shouldn’t experience any damage. However, check with your renter’s insurance for policy coverage as the accommodation will not reimburse spoiled food given advance notice. Contact the Army Legal Claims Office for assistance.
All Post Exchange shops will be closed during the financial year and the Main Exchange and Commissioners will also not be open.
To prepare for the exercise, the commissaries have sold their stock of perishable foodstuffs and will begin to replenish them from Wednesday.
All crèches will be closed from Monday to Wednesday.
Foster said the reason daycares will close the day before and the day after is because of the standards that must be met to ensure food safety.
Traffic lights will be off on the pole. Police officers will be at all major intersections on poles to direct traffic. People should expect longer wait times at the gates.
Some post areas are exempt from the drill, including Robert Gray Army Airfield and Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.
Robert Gray Army Airfield is exempt due to its dual-use status with Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport. A power outage at the airfield could disrupt commercial flights. Foster also pointed out that air traffic controllers at Fort Hood provide coverage of airspace from Waco to Austin.
Fort Hood Hospital will remain open for emergency services, inpatient care, and labor and delivery services, but the hospital is adjusting other services.
“To maintain safe patient care, CRDAMC will be closed Tuesday for routine patient care and surgical services,” reads a Fort Hood press release.
All post clinics, including dental, will be closed.
Soldiers in need of a sick call and urgent care will be seen by a Department of Soldier Medicine team within the Emergency Department from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Peripheral pharmacies and the hospital’s pediatric pharmacy will be closed.
The main hospital pharmacy will only open to meet urgent and emerging drug needs.