Saturday, November 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Weather

MacDill Air Force Base reopens with little damage

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TAMPA — MacDill Air Force Base, which appears to have suffered little damage due to Hurricane Irma despite being in the city's riskiest flood zone, reopened at 4 p.m. Monday, just days after closing ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Officials at MacDill, home to two of the major commands fighting wars against violent extremists, completed an initial damage assessment and determined that it is safe for the nearly 20,000 employees and residents to return, according to a news release.

"It looks like we may have caught a break," said Air Force Col. April Vogel, the 6th Air Mobility Wing commander. "Our initial assessment reveals some damage, but for the most part this is about as good as we could have hoped. However, we still have service members still in the path of Hurricane Irma and we are directing our attention toward assisting them."

Vogel ordered an evacuation of non-essential personnel on Sept. 8. In addition, 11 of the 16 KC-135 aerial refueling tankers were sent to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas over concerns that winds could damage the aircraft.

As of 4 p.m. today, housing and dormitory residents were allowed back onto the base and into their homes.

The evacuation affected all base tenants, including U.S. Central Command and U.S Special Operations Command. Both commands had minimal personnel working on base during the storm and shifted some operations to other locations.

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