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AFCEC opens doors after Hurricane Michael

AFCEC deputy director welcomes back AFCEC members after Hurricane Michael

Mike Connors, Air Force Civil Engineer Center emergency management division chief, assesses Hurricane Michael damage with Robert Genova, AFCEC operations support section manager. Rocks from the roof of an adjacent building damaged Connors' office windows during the storm. He is now commuting two hours from Tallahassee, where he has relocated while his house is undergoing almost total reconstruction.

AFCEC deputy director welcomes back AFCEC members after Hurricane Michael

Air Force Civil Engineer Center Deputy Director, Colonel Timothy Dodge, welcomed back AFCEC members during his standing-room-only all-call Dec. 10. AFCEC had not been open for two months after Hurricane Michael landed a direct hit to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Veronica Kememy)

AFCEC deputy director welcomes back AFCEC members after Hurricane Michael

Air Force Civil Engineer Center Deputy Director, Colonel Timothy Dodge, talks with Dr. Craig Rutland, AFCEC airfield pavement subject matter expert, during his all-call Dec. 10. Engineers were happy to see each other after two months away from AFCEC, as Tyndall Air Force Base and the local community work to rebuild after Hurricane Michael landed a direct hit on the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Veronica Kemeny)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Air Force Civil Engineer Center members returned to work at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, last week after two months away following Hurricane Michael.

AFCEC Deputy Director Col. Timothy Dodge held his largest-to-date all-call with several hundred members from operations, readiness, energy and AFIMSC in attendance. He welcomed the team back and discussed how recovery will be ongoing for some time at the base and in members’ personal lives.

“This is a big day, today, to get back to work,” said Dodge, who relocated following the hurricane to Niceville, Florida, located 90 miles from Tyndall.  “Folks have been raring to get back to work and we know that. It’s good to see everyone today. The storm hit and people’s lives were changed. We saw the community come together. We saw the base come together. We know lots of people in this room helped each other make stuff happen and you helped yourselves.”

Dodge recognized that many personnel are still in the process of recovering in their personal lives.

“From a leadership and camaraderie perspective, we want to make sure we come back together with some hope that things are going to get back to normal,” said Dodge. “Today this is part of that step, getting folks back to normal. Please be sensitive of people’s situations. I want you to do that with each other. Make sure the people around you are taken care of and make sure we can get back to full work really soon.”

Dan Gerdes, advanced meter reading system program manager chief from AFCEC’s energy division, rode out the storm in his home in Panama City. He continued having regular staff meetings after the hurricane.

“It’s good to be back,” said Gerdes. “It’s one degree of normal. Our community has been blessed to have so many engineers living locally. This is home of the engineers. We have a lot of deep roots. So many of our engineers were able to assist the local communities in so many ways after the storm. Our engineers could live anywhere but they choose to live here. We want to continue giving back in this community locally and to the Air Force too.”

Also in attendance at the all-call was Mike Connors, emergency management division chief from AFCEC’s readiness directorate. He currently resides two hours from Tyndall in Tallahassee. 

“We had full accountability of everyone two days after the storm,” said Connors. “Many of my team members were working from displaced locations and many of my team are contract staff. They all did a phenomenal job.”

Several members of the emergency management division worked to help each other in the aftermath of the hurricane.

“I know several of my team tarped 71 roofs in the local community,” said Connors. “And we had people continue to go TDY as well. So many worked hard and didn’t miss a beat when it came down to the emergency management mission and supporting the Air Force.”

Some AFCEC engineers went back to work before Monday’s start date to assist in Tyndall’s recovery and support the Tyndall Project Management Office. Dr. Arnaldo Vincenty, sub activity management plan manager for storm water, AFCEC, was the lead engineer in this effort.

“We put together an AFCEC Team and inspected 70 facilities following the hurricane,” said Vincenty. “We have been assessing any damage and repairs that will be needed to these buildings as well as recommending which ones need to be demoed. I am preparing a final report now that I will deliver to the Tyndall PMO.”

Vincenty was ready for AFCEC to get back to business.

“I’ve worked here five years and it’s a good feeling today to see my coworkers,” continued Vincenty. “So many have problems with their houses but this is so nice to see them. I’m part of the Asset Visibility Team and I’m ready to get back on the road too.”

According to Dodge many members of AFCEC continued to go TDY to serve the Air Force after the storm as operations are coming back online.

“We’re working to get back to full-time business,” said Dodge. “Our Reachback Center is back online. AFCEC Tyndall is ready to provide services for our customers we serve around the globe. We are a resilient group and it’s great to see folks that want to get back to work.”