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Tyndall one year after Hurricane Michael

An Airman from Tyndall Air Force Base cleans debris from Under the Palms Park in Mexico Beach, Fla., Dec. 16, 2018. Thirty nine volunteers from Tyndall and Eglin Air Force Bases came together to help clean Mexico Beach, one of the communities hit the hardest by Hurricane Michael.  The volunteers were able to clean up more than 40 cubic yards of debris within four hours. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sara Keller)

An Airman from Tyndall Air Force Base cleans debris from Under the Palms Park in Mexico Beach, Fla., Dec. 16, 2018. Thirty nine volunteers from Tyndall and Eglin Air Force Bases came together to help clean Mexico Beach, one of the communities hit the hardest by Hurricane Michael. The volunteers were able to clean up more than 40 cubic yards of debris within four hours. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sara Keller)

U.S. Air Force Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander, walks with President Donald J. Trump, after a flightline tour at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, May 8, 2019. Tyndall AFB leaders and civic leaders met with Trump to provide an update on base recovery efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Monica Roybal)

U.S. Air Force Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander, walks with President Donald J. Trump, after a flightline tour at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, May 8, 2019. Tyndall AFB leaders and civic leaders met with Trump to provide an update on base recovery efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Monica Roybal)

Staff Sgt. Kyle Dinger, 325th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, poses for a portrait in the wheel and tire section at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. March 6, 2019.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Staff Sgt. Kyle Dinger, 325th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, poses for a portrait in the wheel and tire section at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. March 6, 2019.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

U.S. Air Force Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander, works alongside Airman 1st Class Kejalae Dicks, 325th Medical Group pharmacy technician, as part of the Airman Shadow program at the Tyndall pharmacy, April 4, 2019. Dicks is described by her leadership as a true go-getter who is always looking for ways to improve the mission. She plays a vital role in the supply and purchase of all medications in the pharmacy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Javier Alvarez)

U.S. Air Force Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander, works alongside Airman 1st Class Kejalae Dicks, 325th Medical Group pharmacy technician, as part of the Airman Shadow program at the Tyndall pharmacy, April 4, 2019. Dicks is described by her leadership as a true go-getter who is always looking for ways to improve the mission. She plays a vital role in the supply and purchase of all medications in the pharmacy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Javier Alvarez)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Gluvas, 99th Security Forces Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., military working dog handler, walk with Alfi, 99th SFS military working dog, before going on patrol at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 21, 2019. Gluvas has been on temporary duty at Tyndall since Oct. 31 assisting with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Javier Alvarez)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Gluvas, 99th Security Forces Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., military working dog handler, walk with Alfi, 99th SFS military working dog, before going on patrol at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 21, 2019. Gluvas has been on temporary duty at Tyndall since Oct. 31 assisting with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Javier Alvarez)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Thomas Carter, an Airman assigned to the 635th Material Maintenance Squadron, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, stands for a portrait at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., March 4, 2019. Carter is currently here on a temporary duty assignment to provide additional support in recovery efforts to help rebuild Tyndall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Thomas Carter, an Airman assigned to the 635th Material Maintenance Squadron, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, stands for a portrait at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., March 4, 2019. Carter is currently here on a temporary duty assignment to provide additional support in recovery efforts to help rebuild Tyndall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors flown by the 94th and 149th Fighter Squadron pilots take off Oct. 30, 2018 from Tyndall  Air Force Base, Florida. After Hurricane Michael swept the area, multiple major commands have mobilized relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes)

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors flown by the 94th and 149th Fighter Squadron pilots take off Oct. 30, 2018 from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. After Hurricane Michael swept the area, multiple major commands have mobilized relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes)

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors flown by the 94th and 149th Fighter Squadron pilots take off Oct. 30, 2018 from Tyndall  Air Force Base, Florida. After Hurricane Michael swept the area, multiple major commands have mobilized relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes)

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors flown by the 94th and 149th Fighter Squadron pilots take off Oct. 30, 2018 from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. After Hurricane Michael swept the area, multiple major commands have mobilized relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sean Carnes)

Kylan Nathey, a field operations manager, carries a cross from Chapel 2 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 15, 2019. The chapel was severely damaged by Hurricane Michael, a category 4 storm that made landfall on Oct. 10, 2018. The demolition marked the beginning of a long process to clear out damaged structures to make way for new construction. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Javier Alvarez)

Kylan Nathey, a field operations manager, carries a cross from Chapel 2 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 15, 2019. The chapel was severely damaged by Hurricane Michael, a category 4 storm that made landfall on Oct. 10, 2018. The demolition marked the beginning of a long process to clear out damaged structures to make way for new construction. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Javier Alvarez)

F-22 Raptors are parked near the runway at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 15, 2018. Air Combat Command has mobilized multiple relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)
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F-22 Raptors are parked near the runway at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 15, 2018. Air Combat Command has mobilized multiple relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

A pilot from the 27th fighter Squadron, Langley, Virginia, prepares to fly an F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, following Hurricane Michael, October 24, 2018. Support personnel from Tyndall and other bases are working to repair base infrastructure and build bare-bones facilities after Hurricane Michael.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kelly Walker)
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A pilot from the 27th fighter Squadron, Langley, Virginia, prepares to fly an F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, following Hurricane Michael, October 24, 2018. Support personnel from Tyndall and other bases are working to repair base infrastructure and build bare-bones facilities after Hurricane Michael.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kelly Walker)

A Pilot from the 27th Fighter Wing, Joint Base Langly-Eustis, Virginia, flies an F-22 Raptor out of  Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 21, 2018, following the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Multiple major commands have mobilized relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keifer Bowes)
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A Pilot from the 27th Fighter Wing, Joint Base Langly-Eustis, Virginia, flies an F-22 Raptor out of Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 21, 2018, following the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Multiple major commands have mobilized relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Keifer Bowes)

Tyndall Air Force Base evacuated assets to avoid the path of Hurricane Michael Oct. 8, 2018. The aircraft will reposition to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and other locations around the country.  Evacuated aircraft will return when the storm danger has passed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Solomon Cook)
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Tyndall Air Force Base evacuated assets to avoid the path of Hurricane Michael Oct. 8, 2018. The aircraft will reposition to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and other locations around the country. Evacuated aircraft will return when the storm danger has passed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Solomon Cook)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jake Gonzalez, fire truck and refueling mechanic assigned temporarily assigned to the 325th Logistics Readiness Squadron, repairs a refueling truck component June 4, 2019, on Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jake Gonzalez, fire truck and refueling mechanic temporarily assigned to the 325th Logistics Readiness Squadron, repairs a refueling truck component June 4, 2019, on Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. Hurricane Michael brought devastation to Tyndall and units across the base adapted to limited manning and temporary facilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

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Frank Cutchens and Jeff Geoghagan, J&J Worldwide Services base operations airfield lighting technicians, prepare a confined space June 6, 2019, on the flightline at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. Jobs within a confined space require preparation and careful execution. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailee A. Darbasie)

EOD Airman Shadow
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Antonio Deleon, 325th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team member, smiles for a photo at the EOD Range on Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 22, 2019. Deleon was hand-selected by his leadership for the program allowing Airmen to demonstrate job duties within their designated Air Force Specialty Code to the wing commander (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Delaney Gonzales)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jackson Findlay, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., 325th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, reviews his notes from the previous days log prior to completing routine maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Eglin AFB. Fla., Feb. 21, 2019. Some of the F-22s that were stationed at Tyndall AFB were evacuated to Eglin AFB hangars where its’ dedicated crews maintain them until Tyndall hangars are restored. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jackson Findlay, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., 325th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, reviews his notes from the previous days log prior to completing routine maintenance on an F-22 Raptor at Eglin AFB. Fla., Feb. 21, 2019. Some of the F-22s that were stationed at Tyndall AFB were evacuated to Eglin AFB hangars where its’ dedicated crews maintain them until Tyndall hangars are restored. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

U.S. Air Force Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander, gives a speech during the Great American Defense Communities celebration at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 13, 2019. Bay County, is one of five communities across the country to be named a Great American Defense Community in 2019. The GADC program leaders work to recognize military communities and regions that help improve the quality of life for veterans, service members and their families.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Javier Alvarez)
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U.S. Air Force Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander, gives a speech during the Great American Defense Communities celebration at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 13, 2019. Bay County, is one of five communities across the country to be named a Great American Defense Community in 2019. The GADC program leaders work to recognize military communities and regions that help improve the quality of life for veterans, service members and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Javier Alvarez)

Airman preparing food
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A U.S. Air Force Airman from the 325th Force Support Squadron seasons chicken prior to cooking during a lunch service at the Berg-Liles Dining Facility at Tyndall Air Force Base Jan. 7, 2019. The dining facility was temporarily closed after Hurricane Michael and was reopened Jan. 7, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Solomon Cook)

Tyndall innovators restore air operations
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Tech. Sgt. Ashley Leroy and Staff Sgt. Coeda Bomar, 325th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controllers, perform their duties inside of a mobile tower on the flightline Jan. 18, 2019, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The permanent flightline tower suffered catastrophic damage when Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle Oct. 10, 2018. While the tower is repaired and rennovated, controllers will operate out of the mobile tower. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Alexander Martinez)

exercise
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kirk Phang, 823rd REDHORSE Squadron Detachment 1 student communicates on a radio device at the Silver Flag Site on Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Jan. 16, 2019. The detachment performed its first exercise since the landfall of Hurricane Michael Oct. 10, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Delaney Gonzales)

A U.S. Air Force Missile Retriever Ship sits atop inflatable bladders near Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 14, 2018. Prior to returning to the water, the vessel sat beached due to the strong winds of Hurricane Michael. Sailors from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2, homeported at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Ft. Story, partnered with Tyndall personnel and contractors to return the vessel to the water. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Isaiah J. Soliz)
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A U.S. Air Force Missile Retriever Ship sits atop inflatable bladders near Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 14, 2018. Prior to returning to the water, the vessel sat beached due to the strong winds of Hurricane Michael. Sailors from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2, homeported at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Ft. Story, partnered with Tyndall personnel and contractors to return the vessel to the water. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Isaiah J. Soliz)

Senior Airman Megan Timbers, 325th Force Support Squadron readiness and plans and event coordinator, stands in front of a broken tree line at Under the Palms Park in Mexico Beach, Fla., Dec. 16, 2018. Timbers helped recruit volunteers from Tyndall and Eglin Air Force Bases to come together to help clean Mexico Beach, one of the communities hit the hardest by Hurricane Michael.  The volunteers were able to clean up more than 40 cubic yards of debris within four hours. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sara Keller)
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Senior Airman Megan Timbers, 325th Force Support Squadron readiness and plans and event coordinator, stands in front of a broken tree line at Under the Palms Park in Mexico Beach, Fla., Dec. 16, 2018. Timbers helped recruit volunteers from Tyndall and Eglin Air Force Bases to come together to help clean Mexico Beach, one of the communities hit the hardest by Hurricane Michael. The volunteers were able to clean up more than 40 cubic yards of debris within four hours. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Sara Keller)

SF prepared for Tyndall Airmen return
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A 325th Security Forces Squadron defender waits for a driver to approach the Airey Gate at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 10, 2018. Hundreds of Tyndall Airmen begin returning back to the base since being evacuated from the category 4 Hurricane Michael that struck the panhandle of Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David W. Carbajal)

SF prepared for Tyndall Airmen return
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Senior Airman Ricky Carpenter, 21st Security Forces Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., checks the ID of a driver coming onto Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 10, 2018. Carpenter is deployed to Tyndall supporting the 325th SFS while the base continues to recover from Hurricane Michael that struck the Florida panhandle Oct. 10, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David W. Carbajal)

From left to right, Senior Airman Jake Stauffer and Airmen 1st Class Marc Karns and Ikiem Williams, members of Task Force Phoenix, repair a damaged rooftop at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 28, 2018. Task Force Phoenix is responsible for large-scale clean up and reconstruction after Hurricane Michael ravaged Tyndall Air Force Base and the panhandle of Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Isaiah J. Soliz)
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From left to right, Senior Airman Jake Stauffer and Airmen 1st Class Marc Karns and Ikiem Williams, members of Task Force Phoenix, repair a damaged rooftop at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 28, 2018. Task Force Phoenix is responsible for large-scale clean up and reconstruction after Hurricane Michael ravaged Tyndall Air Force Base and the panhandle of Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Isaiah J. Soliz)

Task Force Talon II Airmen rally around Chief Master Sgt. Craig Williams, 325th Fighter Wing command chief, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 28, 2018. Williams spoke to his fellow Airmen on the state of Tyndall now and in the future. Task Force Talon II Airmen are responsible for clearing debris from various parts of Tyndall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Isaiah J. Soliz)
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Task Force Talon II Airmen rally around Chief Master Sgt. Craig Williams, 325th Fighter Wing command chief, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Nov. 28, 2018. Williams spoke to his fellow Airmen on the state of Tyndall now and in the future. Task Force Talon II Airmen are responsible for clearing debris from various parts of Tyndall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Isaiah J. Soliz)

822nd Base Defense Squadron
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Staff Sgt. Christopher Beil, 822nd Base Defense Squadron base defender, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, poses for a portrait, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, November 3, 2018. Support personnel from Tyndall and other bases have been working tirelessly to restore essential base systems and support fellow Airmen.(U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Kelly Walker)

Civil Engineer
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U.S. Army soldiers from the 46th Engineer Battalion move tree debris into piles to be pick up Oct. 31, 2018, on Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. After Hurricane Michael swept the area, multiple major commands have mobilized relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (US Air Force photo by

Logistics
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Senior Airman Matthew Rogers, 325th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance journeyman, walks through a vehicle bay Oct. 30, 2018, at Tyndall Air Force Base. The squadron is performing a myriad of missions across the installation including transportation, vehicle maintenance and fuel support as part of the Hurricane Michael recovery effort. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Schultze)

Construction machinery moves debris
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Airmen from the 823rd RED HORSE Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., clear a downed tree at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Oct. 20, 2018 as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael. Air Combat Command has mobilized multiple relief assets in an effort to restore operations after the hurricane caused catastrophic damage to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

U.S Air Force Airman building tent
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Airman 1st Class Deshon Buchannan, 4th CES, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, water and fuels systems maintenance technician, constructs a changing room to provide privacy for residents of the Tyndall Air Force Base tent city, October 22, 2018. Support personnel from Tyndall and other bases are working to repair base infrastructure and build bare-bones facilities after Hurricane Michael.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kelly Walker)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

In the early hours of Oct. 10, 2018, many communities in Northwest Florida prepared for a storm expected to make landfall as a Category 2 hurricane.

Tyndall Air Force Base was also preparing for the storm named Hurricane Michael.

Base leaders evacuated non-essential personnel, stored equipment in protected areas as much as possible, and a team of individuals battened down the hatches in a two-story cinderblock emergency operations center building with almost no windows to ride out the storm on base.

Col. Brian Laidlaw, the 325th Fighter Wing commander, was one of the individuals who stayed during the storm. The “ride out team” was ready for a Category 2 hurricane.

However, the scene soon changed.

“We realized very quickly that this would be the storm we had trained for,” said Laidlaw.

The Category 2 hurricane escalated into a Category 5 within just a few hours.

Hurricane Michael hit the coastline and surrounding areas of Tyndall Air Force Base, Mexico Beach, and Panama City.

“Without question, this was not just a Tyndall event,” said Laidlaw. “This was a Northwest Florida event. The whole area took a hit. Thankfully we were in a secure building to wait out the storm.”

As the storm progressed, the eye of the hurricane passed over Tyndall Air Force Base for a handful of minutes.

“The only reason we knew we were in the eye of the storm was because the walls stopped shaking,” said Laidlaw.  

The eye passed. After the second half of the storm ran its course, it was then safe enough that the ride out team could emerge from shelter and survey the damage.

“We recognized very quickly how much work we had to do,” said Laidlaw. “It will probably take five to seven years before the rebuild [of Tyndall Air Force Base] will be complete.

An assessment of the damage concluded that of the 484 buildings on base were destroyed or damaged beyond repair, while the other half were stable enough to sustain repairs.

“This base has been here for 79 years and most structures pre-date modern day building codes,” said Laidlaw. “We build the infrastructure in the 40s and 50s and repurposed it many times over the years. It was important, very soon after the storm, to bring in engineers to take a close look at the base. As we did so, we learned what worked and what didn’t work.”

According to Laidlaw, the U.S. Air Force allocated $648 million dollars for immediate repairs. To get the base back to pre-storm capacity will require more time and more funding in the future.

One of the first concerns was how to make the base available to accept relief forces.

“The Air Force and our joint partners sent us relief just a little faster than we were able to take it,” said Laidlaw. “We saw an outpouring of support from the Air Force, and other organizations, to get us back on our feet.

“Much like many communities across Florida, our community is fiercely protective of our Airmen and the missions we have here,” said Laidlaw. “We have to make the base compatible not only for today’s missions but for those of the future and to protect assets and aircraft we haven’t even invented yet.”

Prior to Hurricane Michael, Tyndall was home to two F-22 squadrons including the training school house for that weapons system. Today, some aspects of that mission are still here at Tyndall, like the academics and simulator facility, while others have moved temporarily to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

As for the rebuild of Tyndall, the base is preparing to take on a new mission consistent with the long range goals of the U.S. Air Force.

“The Secretary of the Air Force directed a rebuild to house up to three squadrons of F-35s, and the base remains the preferred alternative for the MQ-9,” said Laidlaw.

According to Laidlaw, Tyndall Air Force Base is a critical asset for the nation’s defense strategy.

“We have some of the best training airspace anywhere in the Department of Defense,” said Laidlaw. “Tyndall has 29,000 acres of land, 70 percent of which are in their natural state and are uninhabited.”

According to Laidlaw, the buffer Tyndall’s acreage and 129 miles of coastline provides, allows for testing and training that is invaluable and free from encroachment. The base takes great pride in maintaining the land in its natural state.

Almost one year after the storm, Tyndall is building up forces again.

“Currently, we have 80 percent of the [personnel] we had before the storm,” said Laidlaw. “As we recover the base we’ve transitioned from living in offices, to living in tents, to living in modern facilities and, in some cases, in repaired dorms and lodging rooms.

“We no longer have any Airmen living in tents” he continued. “We moved our Airmen from these short-term temporary tents into facilities to hold us over until we fully rebuild.”

Tyndall had 11 operational dormitories available when Hurricane Michael hit. Only three survived the storm but required immediate repairs before personnel could move in. Currently, there are four dorms available for housing Tyndall’s Airmen.

In addition to building replacement dorms for personnel, Tyndall has the enormous task of rebuilding other buildings across the installation. For this task, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center Program Management Office stood up a unit on Tyndall to coordinate the construction efforts.

“We are going to combine multi-purpose facilities, which will give us fewer buildings, but we will get much more use out of them,” said Laidlaw. “Brigadier General Patrice Melancon, Tyndall Program Management Executive Director, is championing the technologies needed to build the base of the 21st century.”

Tyndall and AFCEC PMO have been working together from the very beginning to get Tyndall back to full capability and ready to accept F-35s and MQ-9s.

“The partnership between the 325th Fighter Wing and the Tyndall Program Management Office following Hurricane Michael has been like no other,” said Melancon. “Colonel Laidlaw’s leadership has been instrumental to the base’s success. I am so very proud of the dedicated Airmen, civilians, and contractors who flew in from around the country with their sleeves rolled up ready to work. These dedicated individuals have literally moved mountains of debris and worked to repair key buildings quickly this past year to get critical base missions back online.”

According to Melancon, Tyndall will be ready for an F-35 mission by October 2023.

“The rebuild will support a 21st century mission while also focusing on structural resiliency and efficiency,” said Laidlaw. “The people who are here want to be here. We have the right experts in the right areas.

 “When an event like this happens, it becomes a team effort,” he continued. “I do think there’s a story to tell. We’ve learned a lot, and the communities around us have learned a lot, and we are happy to share what we have learned.

“The [partnership between Tyndall and] the state of Florida and Bay County is very beneficial,” said Laidlaw. “It will take a long time to recover. Like us, our community takes great pride in taking care of our Airmen and our mission.

“I never thought we’d come this far so fast,” said Laidlaw. “It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year. Our people are amazing. We have the right people in the right places with the right resources, and they have accomplished so much.”

“There have been some great Airmen, both military and civilian, at Tyndall before, during, and after the storm,” said Laidlaw. “Their hard work and determination have sustained our momentum through twelve long months.

“I can’t imagine where we would be without these people and the support from their families,” he continued. “The reality is, [you can replace buildings, but] you can’t replace people. The mission needs Airmen. Tyndall’s Airmen make the base just a little bit better every single day.”