PANAMA CITY, Fla. --- The familiar roar of F-16 fighters could be heard Tuesday over Tyndall Air Force Base. One year ago, Hurricane Michael made landfall, destroying half of the roughly 450 buildings on base. Today, 80% of all employees were back working on the base. Michael's wrath is still visible across the base.
Demolition began three weeks ago on one of the base's large hangars. It once housed multi-million dollar F-22 Raptor fighters, now it is rubble. Only three of the eleven dormitories on the base are habitable. Two more will be salvaged. 1,000 airmen were forced to sleep in tents until May when temporary, manufactured housing was constructed on the base.
In August, the Air Force publicly confirmed plans to assign as many as three squadrons of F-35 fighter jets to the base by 2023. Congress has approved $700 million in funding for repairs in 2019. $3 billion will be needed to rebuild the base according to Brigadier General Patrice Melancon, who the Air Force has tasked with overseeing the rebuild.
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