Top Air Force officers assess Hurricane Michael’s wrath

Top Air Force officers are evaluating the massive devastation Hurricane Michael wreaked this week on Tyndall Air Force Base, located on the Florida panhandle.

In a video placed on Facebook, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein express concern about the Tyndall community following the hurricane, which struck the panhandle about mid-afternoon Wednesday.

Tyndall is located about 12 miles east of Panama City, Florida.

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“Tyndall Air Force Base sustained catastrophic levels of damage from Hurricane Michael,” Wilson said in the video.

“For many, this is really a life-changing event,” Goldfein said.

Wilson said buildings and aircraft have been damaged, and it will take time to accurately evaluate the extent of that damage.

In another Facebook message, Col. Brian Laidlaw, commander of the 325th Fighter Wing, at Tyndall, said the base "took a beating."

“By now you already know that Tyndall Air Force Base requires extensive cleanup and repairs,” Laidlaw said in the message. “I will not recall you and your families until we can guarantee your safety. At this time I can’t tell you how long that will take, but I’m on it. I know this is important to you.”

The service said it needs to restore basic utilities, clear roads of trees and power lines and assess the structural integrity of buildings. The Air Force is asking for patience.

In an early aerial assessment of damage after Michael, the base said all base houses sustained significant roof and siding damage — and some sustained significant structural failures.

“The flight line is devastated,” a message from the base says on Facebook. “Every building has severe damage. Many buildings are a complete loss.”

Added the message: “The hurricane completely destroyed the Tyndall marina. The structures and docks are gone.”

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has sheltered military aircraft from the region ahead of the hurricane, while Ohio Task Force 1 team deployed to Florida this week, also before the hurricane made landfall.

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