Officials talk hurricane recovery at Tyndall AFB one year later

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG) - The message is clear: Tyndall Air Force Base is here to stay.

Following Hurricane Michael's landfall, the future of the base felt uncertain to local residents. One year later, officials are proud of what has been accomplished so far. Jordan McCool and Paris Janos were live at the base to learn more.

"The Air Force has made a significant investment over the last year to bring the base back up after the storm and plans to make a significant investment over the next few years to rebuild not the base that we had but the base that we need for the future," said Commander Colonel Brian Laidlaw.

Laidlaw says morale remains high among airmen currently at the base.

"We look around and each day we get a little better than we were the day prior, and that gives people a lot of pride and motivates people," he said. "And we'll continue that momentum into the future until the job is done."

Brigadier General Patrice A. Melançon has been overseeing rebuilding efforts at the base and says they're building a digitally-integrated 'base of the future' from the ground up.

"We have a lot of activity going on. We have started and are continuing demolition activities." she said. "We're really clearing the slate to build those new facilities."

Melançon says this week they also began design charettes, which will go back to back through the end of the year. The rebuild project is estimated at $4.25 billion, which includes updating to state of the art technology and bringing in three squadrons of F-35s starting as early as October 2023.

"Four years may seem like a long time, but in design and construction world, that's a very aggressive schedule," Melançon said.

For more information, watch Paris and Jordan's full interviews.

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