Severe Storms Damage Third Air Force Base in Eight Months

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Approximately 150 homes in the Prairies at Wright Field housing area were damaged, some significantly, during the storm that passed through the Dayton area late on May 27, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Wes Farnsworth)
Approximately 150 homes in the Prairies at Wright Field housing area were damaged, some significantly, during the storm that passed through the Dayton area late on May 27, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Wes Farnsworth)

Officials at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, are working to determine the extent of the damage done by a major storm system, including several suspected tornadoes, that hit the Dayton area Monday night.

Officials have so far determined that approximately 150 houses in an off-base, privatized housing area were damaged, as well as numerous vehicles, according to base spokeswoman Marie Vanover.

"A handful of the homes were significantly damaged" in the Prairies at Wright Field housing area, Vanover said Tuesday in an email. "Work crews are on site to help clear the area and continue their damage assessment."

Fire department personnel, Security Forces members and chaplains are going door to door to check on the safety of all residents and the condition of the structures, she said.

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The main facilities on base, including the runway and parking ramps, were not severely impacted, Vanover said. The flight line was reopened after a thorough foreign object debris (FOD) inspection. The base is home to the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and Air Force Materiel Command.

Vanover said one section of the hangar in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force's Early Years gallery, which displays the Wright brothers' early concepts and aircraft up to the beginning of World War II, was damaged but added that no static aircraft or artifacts were harmed.

Officials are working to establish a claims center for military personnel who sustained damage from the storm, she said.

"We are also working with the privatized housing contractor to ensure any displaced residents have the support they need," she added.

The suspected twisters that ripped through the area were part of a larger storm pattern across the U.S.

Storm reports published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center showed that 14 suspected tornadoes touched down in Indiana, 11 in Colorado and nine in Ohio, according to The Associated Press. Six tornadoes were reported in Iowa, five in Nebraska, four in Illinois, three in Minnesota and one in Idaho.

The damage to the Ohio facility makes it the third Air Force base to be damaged by weather in roughly eight months.

In October, Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm, hit Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida; in March, massive floods damaged Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

Congress has yet to approve all the requested funding for the service to complete repairs to those bases.

Last week, the Senate passed a $19 billion disaster aid bill that would give the Defense Department the funds to continue working on Tyndall and Offutt, as well as Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and other facilities across the U.S. impacted by wildfires, hurricanes and flooding.

The House, meanwhile, has been unable to pass the aid bill. Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican from Texas, on Friday blocked Democratic leaders' effort to pass the disaster measure without a recorded vote, citing immigration policy concerns.

"It's a bill that includes nothing to address the clear national emergency and humanitarian crisis on our southern border," Roy said, Defense News reported.

Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, blocked a second effort to pass the bill Tuesday.

"If the speaker of this House [Nancy Pelosi] felt that this was must-pass legislation, the speaker of this House should have called a vote on this legislation before sending its members on recess for 10 days," Massie said, as reported by Politico.

The Air Force has said that if supplemental funding is not granted soon, it will have to reallocate other funds through possibly damaging measures, such as by cutting 18,000 flight training hours starting Sept. 1.

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

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