Bases Scramble to Return to Normal After Sandy
WASHINGTON -- Military bases along the East Coast were shaken but largely unscathed by the superstorm that devastated New York and New Jersey on Monday, and officials scrambled Tuesday to assist with cleanup efforts and return their own operations to normal.
As of Tuesday morning, nearly 7,500 National Guard personnel had been mobilized to help with rescue and recovery efforts in 11 states along the East Coast. The Federal Emergency Management Agency set up staging sites at bases all along the eastern seaboard, using military runways from North Carolina to Massachusetts for the movement of supplies.
The massive storm forced emergency declarations and evacuations in 15 states.
Navy officials put 24 Virginia-based ships to sea in advance of the storm, and aircraft from seven bases in the Northeast were relocated across the country out of harm’s way.
At press time Tuesday, the most serious damage reports from military facilities in the storm’s path appeared to be downed power lines and debris on roads. Officials at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey warned personnel that travel on or around the base was severely limited because of storm damage, and the facility was still operating on emergency status.
Air Force Capt. Marshel Slater, spokeswoman for the Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., said the majority of military missions into and out of the East Coast continued through the storm without major disruption, through alternate airfields.
Dover Air Force Base in Delaware had to shut down runways for more than a day, while Joint Base Andrews in Maryland resumed running limited operations Tuesday after a similar delay.
Slater said several low-priority missions, including nonessential travel, were delayed for up to 24 hours, but officials were working to resume normal operations worldwide on Tuesday. She did not anticipate any long-term disruptions to flight schedules from the storm.
At the Ramstein Passenger Terminal in Germany, passenger services flight commander Capt. Katherine McDowell said the East Coast storm had caused several delays for travelers. Three Patriot Express flights -- the military’s chartered transportation service -- were delayed, disrupting plans for about 800 travelers.
She also said there have been fewer East Coast-bound space-available flights than normal because of the storm.
In a statement Tuesday, the White House said personnel and equipment from the Department of Defense would play a key role in storm response in the days to come, not just in rescue efforts but also to help utility companies restore power throughout the region.
-- Stars and Stripes reporter John Vandiver contributed to this story.