Nearly one year after Hurricane Michael caused extensive damage to Tyndall Air Force Base and Bay County, Fla., the Air Force and local community are rebuilding and looking to the future, according to a U.S. Air Force feature article.
The massive storm struck on Oct. 10, 2018, and since that destructive event both the installation and surrounding community have been working together to be resilient, sustainable and adaptable to recover and rebuild from the damage.
This drive toward recovery was the mantra of Air Force planners, community leaders and industry representatives collaborating on the rebuild of Tyndall AFB during an Air Force industry day held near the base Sept. 12, according to the article.
Last week’s event, held at Florida State University’s Panama City campus and attracting more than 400 attendees, was the third industry day partnering private industry with Air Force planners and community leaders since recovery began. The goal, according to officials, is to build a base that the Air Force needs and not recreate the one that previously existed.
“Rebuilding Tyndall as a 21st century, digitally-integrated facility integral to the nation’s defense requires creativity and ideas from outside the normal lines of thinking,” said Brig. Gen. Patrice Melancon, the reconstruction program management office executive director, urging event attendees to bring their best ideas and to collaborate.
“We have a huge task ahead of us,” Melancon said. “We’ve asked folks to come here and share their ideas with us. These are ideas we hope will spark some thoughts and spark hope.”
Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander at Tyndall endured the storm on the installation and is well aware of the importance of industry day and the magnitude of the task ahead, according to the article.
“What we are doing is bigger than any one person,” Laidlaw said. “This effort is going to require close coordination between Bay County and the base.”
Both Laidlaw and Melancon said “resiliency” resonates throughout the Panhandle, where blue tarps continue to cover damage on more than 70% of Bay County structures, along with most of Tyndall. It also describes the effort to rebuild a base that will lead the nation into the future, according to the article.
“By the numbers, our staff is back to 85%, but working out of 50% of our buildings,” Laidlaw said. “We are flying more F-22s today per week than we were prior to the hurricane. We are getting the mission done.”
The importance of rebuilding Tyndall can’t be exaggerated, said Tom Neubauer, Bay Defense Alliance president.
“There’s a very close relationship between the community and Tyndall,” Neubauer said. “The military members here have always been very involved in every aspect of community life. We cannot imagine what life would be like without Tyndall Air Force Base.”
In addition to acknowledging the importance of the Bay County-Tyndall relationship, Neubauer said the support that’s been sent hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“The Air Force has sent us its best planners, engineers and experts who have really focused on what this should look like,” he said. “I’m very impressed with all that has been done by the Air Force and with (Air Force Civil Engineer Center) and (Air Force Installation Mission Support Center) to make sure the best experts are here onsite.”
Laidlaw echoed Neubauer’s comments by pointing out the rebuild of Tyndall AFB is a team effort that takes the investment, commitment and desire to move forward — an effort that has greatly benefited with the help of important partners.
“AFIMSC has sent to Tyndall its champions,” he said. “This is a tremendous partnership between AFCEC, AFIMSC and combat management.”
Tyndall’s and Bay County’s efforts to recover from the devastating Category 5 Hurricane Michael was highlighted earlier this spring in this ADC video.
For more on what the Tyndall Program Management Office is doing to repair, reshape and rebuild the installation, visit the web page at https://www.afimsc.af.mil/TyndallPMO/.
Photo credit: WJHG/WECP