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San Antonio Air Force Unit Aids Florida Base Devastated By Hurricane Michael

Staff Sgt. Alexander C Henninger
The courtyard of a student housing complex sits flooded with water and debris following Hurricane Michael on Oct. 10. Hurricane Michael is the third largest hurricane to make landfall in the United States, reaching peak winds of 155 miles per hour.

A San Antonio-based Air Force unit is helping rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base, the north Florida military installation devastated by Hurricane Michael in October.

The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, is sending resources and expertise.

Maj. Gen. Brad Spacy, commander of that unit, surveyed Tyndall last week.

“It's devastated,” he said. “I mean, we're finding out that some of the facilities did better than we initially thought they did. But overall, things got really taken out — badly. So it's going to be a long-term recovery effort.”

AFIMSC airmen are key members on two task forces the Air Force established to tackle recovery efforts and restore Tyndall’s missions. AFIMSC Vice Commander Col. Pat Miller leads Task Force Phoenix, which is charged with assessing the condition of buildings on the installation.

Col. Seth Frank, chief of the AFIMSC Force Protections Division, commands Task Force HARP (Housing, Assignment, Relocation, and Posture), which is helping Tyndall Airmen and their families with housing issues and relocation.

About 40 people from Joint Base San Antonio are on the ground at Tyndall, assisting with the recovery effort. But approximately 4,000 more are working in a reach-back capacity between JBSA and 77 other locations across the world.

“This is the mothership for Installation and Mission Support,” Spacy said. “We have the deep bench of engineers, of security forces, of logisticians, of chaplains, of public affairs. ... We have all those people here to take those on-the-ground requirements, find the right answers, and push them forward.”

Spacy says Tyndall will soon be ready to accept Airmen displaced by the storm. For now, however, affected service members and their families remain at their evacuated locations, which range up the eastern seaboard into New York.

“They're kind of in flux right now. But Tyndall leadership has good communication with them. The Air Force is financially taking care of them,” Spacy said. “But that doesn't help the emotional side of what they've gone through. They've lost a lot of their personal goods, their homes. They don't know exactly where they'll be in the future. Some do, though.”

According to a recent Air Force publication, all but about 500 Airmen will return to the Florida panhandle within three months, though they may have to rely on expeditionary housing with support from trailers and generators.

Carson Frame can be reached at carson@tpr.org or on Twitter @carson_frame

Carson Frame can be reached carson@tpr.org and on Twitter at @carson_frame