TYNDALL AFB — The direct hit from Hurricane Michael sustained by Tyndall Air Force Base has left "widespread catastrophic damage" in its wake, according to the base's Facebook page.
According to the latest damage assessment, base leaders "do not yet have an estimate of when Tyndall AFB will reopen."
Among the damage discovered thus far by recovery teams assessing conditions at the base were "roof damage to nearly every home" in base housing.
Elsewhere across the base, the hurricane brought down trees and power lines, removed roofs and caused other significant structural damage.
“At this point, Tyndall residents and evacuated personnel should remain at their safe location,” Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander, advised via social media.
“We are actively developing plans to reunite families and plan to provide safe passage back to base housing,” Laidlaw said.
Also according to the Facebook post, Tyndall AFB leadership is "working with Air Force leadership to develop a short-term plan for our airmen."
At this point, social media remains the primary means by which information about conditions at Tyndall AFB is getting out, according to Maj. Lindy Singleton, an Air Force spokeswoman. Singleton did say that the recovery team now assessing conditions at the base likely includes civil engineers, security forces and the base fire department.
While communications issues are hampering the Air Force's ability to provide reports directly from the base, video footage now showing up online reveals the massive damage inflicted on Tyndall AFB by Hurricane Michael. Helicopter footage from WeatherNation, a weather news website, shows some structures have been turned into piles of rubble.
An evacuation order remains in effect for the base, and information from Tyndall noted that teams of personnel "will work diligently to recover base in the coming weeks."
Evacuation of Tyndall AFB's aircraft was ordered on Monday, with the planes slated to go to Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio and Fort Worth Alliance Airport in Texas.
Tyndall AFB is the home of the 325th Fighter Wing, which provides training for the F-22 Raptor fighter jet. The base also houses the 53rd Wing Weapons Evaluation Group, associated with Eglin AFB, as well as the 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron, among numerous other units.
As Tyndall personnel assess damage at the base, at least one other local Air Force installation was beginning to consider how to help the facility and its personnel.
"I’m sure there will be lots of questions about how to help," Col. Michael Conley, commander of the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, said in a Facebook post. "Let's give the Tyndall team the chance to fully assess the situation and figure out what they need."
The aircraft will reposition to Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Texas. Evacuated aircraft and designated personnel will return when the storm danger has passed.