Panama City - Tyndall Air Force Base is one of only four Air Force installations in the country accredited as "Storm Ready" by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. So what have they done to earn that designation? NewsChannel found out how the base prepares for hurricane season.
Despite a relatively close call with Tropical Storm Debby, the 2012 hurricane forecast isn't calling for a major storm to hit our area. But Tyndall Air Force Base has to prepare as if they'll be hit directly, tomorrow. "It only takes one and we have to prepare for the big one every time. We educate the base populace, we have briefings that are going on twice a month from May to November. We have a lot of folks that come in that this is their first time in hurricane alley, so it's our job to make sure they feel a little more safe than they were when they got here," said Marty Spikes, the head of Tyndall Air Force Base Emergency Management.
Just like Bay County, Tyndall Air Force Base has an Emergency Operations Center that becomes the nerve center in the event of any emergency. Hurricane watch teams on base track the weather 24/7 throughout hurricane season. "That gives us an early jump on anything that may pop up and that gives us an early start on prepping the base," said Spikes.
What you won't find on base, a storehouse of supplies. Officials say military men and women need to be prepared just like civilians. "We treat everybody on base like we do downtown, expect no help at all for the first 72 hours," said Spikes.
Were a big storm to hit, Tyndall is ready to take action in the aftermath. "We have what is called a "ride out" element and a base recovery element which is made up of folks from across the installation. They will be the first team out to get eyes on the base and survey the damage and determine what we are going to need to make Tyndall operational as soon as possible," said Spikes. Proving Tyndall is ready to weather anything Mother Nature serves up. "Six months out of the year is hurricane season, the other 6 months is preparing for hurricane season."
The Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency, housed at Tyndall, has developed a program of materials to help equip bases worldwide for emergency situations. It's called "Be Ready." For more information click on Newslinks.