Update on Tyndall AFB since Hurricane Michael

By
Ralph Williams

Tyndall Air Force Base is located in an area described as having the most beautiful beaches in the world. Named after its clear blue waters and white beaches, Florida’s Emerald Coast is a destination for travelers around the world. Tyndall AFB is considered an excellent location to be stationed at or to retire near.

However, on October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael struck the coast where Tyndall AFB and surrounding areas such as Mexico Beach took a severe amount of punishment and the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared the community “wiped out” from the storm’s impact.

The devastation is very apparent with rows of tall trees smashed to the ground beside the freeway next to Tyndall.

Trees damaged by Hurricane Michael near Tyndall AFB
Trees damaged by Hurricane Michael near Tyndall AFB

 

As of February 2019, Tyndall AFB is in a major rebuilding phase, its base website stating because of damage from the hurricane, “100 percent” of the base’s nearly 1,200 facilities are in need of some level of repair. With an annual economic impact to the local area estimated to be $596 million, both Florida senators’ quickly dismissed talk of closing the base to quash fears of what happened before in 1992 when another base, Homestead AFB, was closed after severe storm damage and rebuilt as a smaller Air Reserve Base. Senator Bill Nelson stated “I can say that Tyndall will be rebuilt, and it will be an example of a modern U.S. Air Force base. That is because it is critically located right next to one of our greatest national assets, the Air Force Eastern Gulf Test and Training Range, which is the largest testing and training range for the United States military in the world.” Base representatives have been meeting with industry professionals and community leaders as they work and plan to rebuild the base as the Air Force’s “installation of the future.” The Air Force has stated while the base suffered massive damage, no personnel were injured from the storm. They expressed optimism to create a new type of comprehensive Air Force Base to meet the needs of the 21st century. 

The hurricane damage has transformed the previous full facility base to a base undergoing extensive repair and renovation.

The Berg-Liles Dining Facility, Tyndall AFB
The Berg-Liles Dining Facility, Tyndall AFB

 

Recent accomplishments are the reopening of the dining facility for the troops to eat at. The medical facilities are also reopening. Fitness facilities are showing many activities available with more to follow. Full facility availability will come in the future as construction time allows. A schedule posted of the base’s facilities now open shows a lot of progress has been made in a short period of time. More facilities are quickly coming back like the bowling alley and outdoor recreation center, both to be opened in the spring of 2019.

February 2019 Housing and Accommodations Updates

Since so much of the base housing was damaged or destroyed, temporary housing tents have been set up to house personnel.

Temporary housing at Tyndall AFB
Temporary barracks at Tyndall AFB                                                        


The Sand Dollar Inn on base is not accepting reservations at this time. Facilities like the base commissary and next-door exchange (BX) were minimally damaged and are now open. The base commander stressed that these types of facilities were important to get open as soon as possible to serve it’s 10,000 military members and dependents in the area.

Repairs Underway at Tyndall AF.B..
Repairs Underway at Tyndall AF.B.                                  

 

Planning a Visit

If you are planning on traveling to the area, due to the severe storm damage, Tyndall is not recommended until more of the base is rebuilt and full services are operational. The base has undergone extensive hurricane damage and currently lacks many services for travelers but with time this will be a great destination to visit again.

Don't let that stop you from visiting the area as other nearby bases in the Florida Panhandle did not get the extensive damage Tyndall received. I have visited other military areas in the Florida Panhandle and it was a great experience and vacation. I'd recommend considering Pensacola Naval Air Station, Whiting Field, Hurlburt Field, or Eglin AFB for your travel plans in 2019 and possibly the next few years depending on Tyndall's progress.

Tyndall’s future looks strong with a major commitment by the government and the Air Force in rebuilding it to be a state-of-the-art Air Force base for the 21st century. The personnel assigned to Tyndall will surely remember the commitment they made in rebuilding the base to be the best in the world. With billions required for repairs and renovations, the base projects are forecast to be completed between 2022 and 2024.

U.S.Air Force F-22A, Tyndall A.F.B.