Hurricane Dorian Continues North As Bases Take Stock, Look Ahead

Aircraft and airmen from Shaw AFB, S.C., arrive to Barksdale AFB, La., for Hurricane Dorian evacuation on Sept. 4, 2019. Air Force photo by A1C Lillian Miller.

Air Force bases in Florida and southern Georgia began assessing damage from Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 4 as the storm moved north and set its sights on the Carolinas and southern Virginia.

The storm, though it has weakened significantly from its initial Category 5 assessment in the Bahamas earlier in the week, still packs a potentially life-threatening surge and high winds. Flash floods are likely across Georgia and the Carolinas through the rest of the week, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The 45th Space Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla., said it had teams out to determine how much damage both Patrick and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station sustained.

“From this initial assessment, the damage to the base was not severe, with nearly all buildings currently having power and water,” the base said in a Facebook update. “Because the base has power and water, and there have not been any catastrophic damages to any facilities that we have found, we are rescinding the evacuation order.”

Moody AFB, Ga., posted that it expects rain showers and thunderstorms, with the potential for damaging wind gusts. However, the base doesn’t anticipate heavy damage.

The 165th Airlift Wing at Savannah IAP, Ga., posted that its senior leaders were accounting for all personnel and assets the morning of Sept. 4. Mission-essential personnel at the base kept operations to protect aircraft and employees going around the clock.

“In the storm’s aftermath, airmen of the 165th Airlift Wing are prepared to assist local and state authorities, and their residents, as they are affected by Hurricane Dorian,” the wing said in a Facebook update.

Nearby JB Charleston, S.C., posted that it declared Hurricane Condition 1, expecting tropical storm-level wind and rain, with the largest impact slated for the morning of Sept. 5. People living on much of the base were ordered to evacuate.

Shaw AFB, S.C., sent its F-16 fighters to Barksdale AFB, La., to escape Dorian. The base’s lodging facilities were taking in evacuees from the coast as the hurricane approached.

F-15s from Seymour-Johnson AFB, N.C., fled to Tinker AFB, Okla. The installation is changing to mission-essential status Sept. 5-6. Though flash flooding is expected, the base does not expect the nearby Neuse River to overflow.

JB Langley-Eustis, Va., evacuated its F-22s and T-38s to Rickenbacker ANGB, Ohio, as Dorian approached the state. Because of a potential storm surge, power shutdown, and possible flooding, the base ordered a mandatory evacuation for residents living on base, the 633rd Air Base Wing announced Sept. 4.

US Northern Command is standing by with 2,700 personnel, 40 helicopters, and 80 high-water clearance vehicles to help if needed.