Members of Team Scott recently returned from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, where they helped with base recovery efforts following the destruction caused by the category 5 Hurricane Michael, which struck the Gulf Coast base Oct. 10.
A 26-person team from the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron, with an additional two members from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight, and a representative from Scott’s Airman and Family Readiness Center worked at Tyndall for a month to help restore the base and assist with Airmen and families displaced by the storm.
Members of CES such as Senior Airman Jake Stauffer, a water and fuels maintenance specialist, assisted with roofing such as laying tar and tarps, and building trusses.
“We also were responsible for maintaining tent city by laying down sand bags during heavy rain and running the power plant,” he added. “(Tyndall is) still in the early stages of the recovery effort.”
Lona Berndt, 375th Force Support Squadron Air Force Aid Society officer, was part of a 28-person team called Task Force HARP which stood up the Tyndall reception center at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
HARP stands for housing, assignments, relocation and posture team that helped families with moving costs and assisted with legal issues, as well as answer questions via phone lines.
“As part of this relief team effort, the Air Force Aid Society provided many Airmen with $750-$1500 stabilizing assistance grants, totaling millions of dollars,” said Berndt. “This went to help relocate and stabilize the families impacted.”
While HARP helped families get back on their feet, members of the 375th CES rebuilt infrastructures, allowing the mission at Tyndall to continue.
Staff Sgt. Jacob Lowe, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron structural craftsman, said the flightline reopened while they were there, and that “they’re doing extremely better than when we had started.”
EOD members faced their own challenges during their time in Tyndall, protecting the local population from potentially dangerous munitions.
“We went down there to clean up damaged munitions and munitions that were displaced during the hurricane,” said Master Sgt. Scott Ackeret, EOD superintendent.
“It was a unique opportunity, not only for the seasoned NCOs to go out and do work, but also to take new Airmen so they can get this training early in their career.”
For a lot of Airmen, this meant performing tasks that were different from their primary job, but still necessary to complete the mission.
For instance, Stauffer said, “I’m not structures; I’m a plumber. I’ve never been on a roof before, but while I was down there I was on 11 or 12 of them helping to make them waterproof.”
Lowe added that seeing so many service members from different bases come together to help get Tyndall back on its feet was inspiring.
“There’s just a thing about going out and getting something done. It’s hard work but getting to help out the people it’s affecting is what it’s all about,” he said.