Storm Repair at Tyndall Air Force Base Gets Accelerated with Funding Boost

Construction workers look on as the Chapel 2 steeple is demolished at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Javier Alvarez)
Construction workers look on as the Chapel 2 steeple is demolished at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Javier Alvarez)

Officials at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, say millions in additional funding has expedited rebuilding efforts following a devastating hurricane last October.

The 2019 Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act gave the U.S. Air Force's Operations and Maintenance budget "$56 million to sustain regular base operations with an additional $358.4 million allotted for Hurricane Michael recovery under facility sustainment restoration modernization," the service said in a recent release.

That's roughly 12 times more than the 'facilities sustainment restoration and modernization' budget of $30 million, officials said.

"For any normal base to recover from a natural disaster and get to the point where it's obligating 10 times more in funding is a herculean achievement," said Col. Travis Leighton, Tyndall Program Management Office director.

Related: Severe Storms Damage Third Air Force Base in Eight Months

"Most people doing this work were dealing with their own lives and families at home and then coming in to develop requirements, manage and award contracts, and contribute to getting the base back to normal," he said in the release.

Earlier this year, officials were worried that if supplemental money wasn't found, the setback would hinder or delay future construction projects the Air Force deemed crucial.

In April, the service said it was preparing to pause planned projects, rebuilding efforts and awarding of new contracts as it struggled to repair the $4.7 billion in damage caused by Hurricane Michael. The Category 5 storm destroyed nearly 700 buildings and forced 11,000 personnel to relocate.

Then-Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson in March said the service was deferring 61 projects in the U.S. and overseas worth a total of $272 million, with plans to use that money for base repairs instead. The service also outlined a plan to drum up funds by cutting 18,000 flight training hours starting Sept. 1 if Congress didn't provide a repair budget.

One the act was signed in June, airmen worked round the clock to apply the supplemental money before the new fiscal year began Oct. 1, the release said.

"We received a significant portion of our funding in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, meaning we had a very short amount of time to execute a huge amount of money," said Capt. Meara McCarthy, 325th Comptroller Squadron budget officer. "Ultimately, we had one quarter to execute about four and a half times the amount of money that we do in an entire year."

Airmen tackled more than 40 projects within the last 90 days of the fiscal year, officials said.

Money designated for Facilities, Sustainment Restoration and Modernization (FRSM) went toward "everything from repairs to the commissary to fixing dorms and other major buildings on base," said Capt. Sean Murphy, 325th Civil Engineer Squadron deputy engineering flight chief.

"We also awarded two military construction [MILCON] projects, which include the Air Battle Manager Simulator [project] and a new fire station," he said.

The service designated $11.8 million to build the fire station and $17.6 million for the Air Battle Manager-F-15 Eagle simulator building, the release said.

Tyndall will also receive $577.6 million over the next five years for new military construction projects, including projects that pave the way for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to be stationed at the base by 2023.

Vice President Mike Pence announced in August that F-35s were officially coming to Tyndall as the service plans to fully rebuild the location to be a "fifth-generation base."

Last year, the Air Force said it hopes to station three squadron's worth of F-35s there.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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