SJ begins recovery from Hurricane Matthew

  • Published
  • By Airman Shawna L. Keyes
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

More than 40 F-15E Strike Eagles from the 4th Fighter Wing and five KC-135R Stratotankers from the 916th Air Refueling Wing were repositioned to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Oct. 6, 2016, as a precautionary measure due to Hurricane Matthew.

The 916th provided support to the more than 200 support personnel from the 4th FW by evacuating Airmen in several of their aircraft, along with equipment that was repositioned to Barksdale AFB.

“The combined efforts of the Airmen of the 4th Fighter Wing and the 916th Air Refueling Wing to mobilize all our jets, people, and equipment goes to show just how important and effective Total Force Integration is,” said Col. Christopher Sage, 4th FW commander. “Without the unified effort, we would not have been able to make this move happen and protect our assets. The quick and professional response by Team Seymour to prepare for, endure, and recover from Hurricane Matthew, exemplifies our preparedness and resilience toward any challenge.”

The large-scale movement was completed less than 48 hours following the initial notification of the move by Sage. 

In addition, Sage designated Col. Chris Freeman, 414th Reserve Fighter group commander, to lead the F-15E evacuation to Barksdale AFB.

Late afternoon, Oct. 8, less than 48 hours after evacuating the jets, Matthew swept over Wayne County, dropping more than 15 inches of rainfall and causing severe flooding throughout Goldsboro, North Carolina. In response, Airmen from the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department immediately went into action to provide support to not only base personnel but to people outside the base as well.

“The Wayne County emergency operations center requested aid late Saturday afternoon” said Michael Blackburn, 4th CES assistant chief of operations. “We sent a three-man crew with our crash truck to assist with rescue operations in town.”

In the middle of the rainfall, more than 15 Airmen from the 4th CES Fire Dept. assisted in rescue and evacuation operations on- and off-base, including a rescue mission with a swift water rescue team in downtown Goldsboro. More than 150 people were evacuated from base housing and took shelter in base lodging, the fitness center, or Heritage Hall.

“What we did on the night of the 8th was just unbelievable,” said Tech. Sgt. Justin Fellure, 4th CES fire station captain. “Getting the people out of base housing and the rescues off-base just shows you that at a moment’s notice we can be ready for anything; there’s nothing that can hold us back from protecting the community.”

Team Seymour experienced flooding in base housing, dorms, end of runway and various areas on base and were without power over the weekend.

“The Airmen of the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron led the way in the immediate and post-storm recovery efforts,” said Maj. John Casey, 4th CES operations flight commander. “More than 95 engineers, to include equipment operators, electricians, plumbers, structural craftsman, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and production technicians provided 24-hour recovery operations.”

According to Casey, the 4th CES has been continuously coordinating recovery efforts throughout base as soon as the storm passed, with more than 100 personnel from around the wing integrated into the squadron’s efforts.

Over the last several days the 4th CES pavement and equipment shop has swept the flightline and base roads, repaired sections of the base fencing, and cleared large trees from around the base and along the fence line.

The 4th CES structures shop has been making repairs to roofs around base that were damaged from the high winds and are evaluating facilities to ensure they are safe to re-occupy as flood waters recede.

In addition, Casey added that current estimated damage to the base is $6 million, but until the water completely recedes, an accurate cost can’t be determined.