Tyndall Air Force Base Suffers Severe Damage in Hurricane, Remains Closed

Aerial image shows destruction at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, after Hurricane Michael made landfall Oct. 10 and 11. (Screenshot WXChasing, via Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD3KREyo3IqCLBC-4khGgIw)
Aerial image shows destruction at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, after Hurricane Michael made landfall Oct. 10 and 11. (Screenshot WXChasing, via Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD3KREyo3IqCLBC-4khGgIw)

Tyndall Air Force Base remains closed after the Florida facility sustained severe damage during the onslaught of Hurricane Michael this week, Air Force officials said Thursday.

"There is no power, water or sewer service to the base at this time," Air Force spokeswoman Erika Yepsen said in a statement. "All personnel assigned to ride out the storm are accounted for with no injuries."

The National Hurricane Center said the storm reached Category 4 status, with 150 mph winds as it made landfall early Wednesday afternoon. Tyndall at one point was in the eye of the storm.

"The Air Force is working to conduct aerial surveillance of the damage, to clear a route to the base and to provide security, potable water, latrines and communication equipment," Yepsen said, adding that the base will remain closed and airmen should not plan to return until further notice.

"The good news is the airmen that we left behind to ride out the storm are all safe and accounted for," Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, said in a video posted on Twitter. "In the short-term, it's just not safe to return there. In the hours and days to come, we'll know more about the conditions at Tyndall, and we'll know more about when [airmen] can come back."

A YouTube video showed an F-15 static display aircraft knocked over. Roofs were damaged across the base, trees were shown split or scattered, and vehicles were overturned.

At Eglin Air Force Base, the 96th Test Wing commander declared that base can return to normal operations and that base services will reopen Friday.

"All services will be open at normal operating hrs, including base hospital, child development centers, base exchange, commissary and dining facility," according to a base Twitter announcement Thursday.

The 1st Special Operations Wing commander said on social media Wednesday that Hurlburt Field personnel are on standby to help Tyndall and other units recover.

While Hurlburt's base services remained closed Thursday, "it appears the storm has made the long-awaited turn to the northeast," Col. Michael E. Conley, 1st SOW commander, said on Facebook.

He went on to say it appeared that Hurlburt Field would be "spared from the worst impacts" and that the base, home to the Air Force's special tactics community, "dodged a bullet."

"Let's give the Tyndall team the chance to fully assess the situation and figure out what they need," Conley said.

Tyndall on Monday ordered the evacuation of all on-and-off-base personnel ahead of the hurricane. Personnel were given permission to use their government-issued credit cards "for any expenses incurred during this evacuation," a base statement said, adding they will be reimbursed for any travel expenses of at least 100 miles, but no more than 500 miles, from the base.

Aircraft were moved from Tyndall to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as a precaution. The base houses F-22 Raptors, T-38 Talons and QF-16s -- F-16 Fighting Falcons converted into unmanned aircraft. Officials did not specify how many aircraft had been moved.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

This story was updated Oct. 11 to correct the type of static display aircraft knocked over in the storm. An F-15 was overturned.

Show Full Article