The US Air Force (USAF) has halted all rebuilding efforts at Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida, US, due to lack of funding.
The service announced that work would be suspended because of the absence of Congressional funding.
In October, the Tyndall AFB suffered $4.7bn of damage when category five hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida.
At a public event on 27 March, USAF Secretary Heather Wilson underscored a critical need for supplemental funding to undertake repair works at Tyndall and Offutt AFBs, which were damaged by natural disasters.
Hurricane Michael was the first category five hurricane to strike the contiguous US since hurricane Andrew in 1992 and one of only four of this category to make recorded landfall in the continental US.
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The hurricane damaged nearly 700 buildings and forced the service to evacuate 11,000 personnel and 46 aircraft.
Offutt AFB in Nebraska, headquarters of US Strategic Command, was crippled by a massive flood in March this year. The flooding event inundated the base, with dozens of buildings and much of the flight line becoming submerged in water.
Wilson said: “Homeowners and businesses purchase insurance to protect themselves from these kinds of disasters, but that’s not an option for the military.
“When unavoidable catastrophes strike our facilities, supplemental funding from Congress is our only recourse. If they don’t step in, our communities, our readiness, and our security all pay the price.”
She added that the work stoppage would mainly affect new contracts, including rebuilding efforts. However, contracts already funded for clean-up and repair efforts would remain unaffected.
The shortage of funds has forced the service to prioritise funds to more important projects to ensure the safety of its personnel and equipment.
The USAF Secretary already deferred 61 critical infrastructure projects across 18 states and five overseas locations. These projects are valued at $272.4m.
Wilson further stated: “The supplemental funding and budget reprogramming requests are about more than just Tyndall and Offutt.
“We’re robbing other projects to fund minimal recovery efforts because Congress hasn’t moved forward yet with recovery funding. The lack of funding now for these projects is impacting all of our bases.”
Furthermore, the lack of immediate supplemental funding will force the USAF to stop intensive depot-level aircraft repairs starting this month.
This would result in five bomber aircraft being grounded later this fall and creation of a long-term backlog for E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft maintenance.
Funding delays will also have an impact on Offutt AFB recovery efforts and flying operations, the USAF noted.