National Guard, rescue teams swarm FL Panhandle with relief efforts

Kaylah Jackson
October 11, 2018 - 5:12 pm

(Photo courtesy of Florida National Guard Public Affairs Office)

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While Hurricane Michael’s Category 4 winds and rainfall spurred the Department of Defense to activate the National Guard and active duty troops to assist in relief efforts, the storm has also left many areas, including military bases in the Florida Panhandle devastated. 

Bases Affected

Tyndall Air Force Base suffered catastophic damage from the brunt of Hurricane Michael’s storm surge. While there are currently no reported injuries, evacuation orders are still in effect as recovery teams asses the widespread damage from the storm.

“At this point, Tyndall residents and evacuated personnel should remain at their safe location,” said Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander. “We are actively developing plans to reunite families and plan to provide safe passage back to base housing.”

Eglin Air Force Base has reopened and is operating as of Thursday, with varied starting work schedules for authorized personnel. Non-essential personnel at Camp Lejeune have been released from duty early Thursday and all Marine Corps community services, except the Inn of the Corps and Child Development Services, are currently closed.

Fort Steward Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Benning are currently open and operational. Both Naval Air Stations Pensacola and Whiting Field have reopened for regular operations.

Read Also: Tyndall AFB: 'widespread catastrophic damage' after hurricane's direct hit

National Guard

When Florida Governor, Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Florida, National Guard units from neighboring southern states began responding. According to the National Guard Bureau, about 2,250 troops were activated for storm duty.

While the Florida Guard has activated its own service members, personnel from the Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina units are on standby as well. Wednesday, aircraft, and crews from New York National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing along with 60 Airmen from Gabreski Air National Guard Base arrived in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Guard units from the West Coast and Midwest are also coming to Florida’s aid. Six soldiers and a CH-47 Chinook helicopter from the Minnesota National Guard 34th Combat Aviation Brigade left their home station Thursday to assist in response and recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

Wisconsin Army National Guard has sent 12 soldiers and two UH-60 Black Hawk medevac helicopters to Florida and the Ohio National Guard sent a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and crew south for possible rescue missions. crews.

Coast Guard

Crew Members from Air Station Clearwater, Florida to drop self-locating datum marker buoys to determine the flow of the storm surge. The Coast Guard also conducted various search and rescue operations through affected areas on Thursday, which resulted in rescuing 17 people and assisting six.

“We’re working closely with Customs and Border Protection aircrews to help with our search and rescue operations,” said Cmdr. Jason Franz, Sector Mobile incident commander for Hurricane Michael.

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley J. Johnson.)

 

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