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Keesler begins recovery operations

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- As Hurricane Katrina struck the base, rising waters swallowed cars parked along streets.  The base and the 6,000 sheltered military students, permanent party, civilians and their families survived the Category 4 hurricane with no casualties.  The initial damage was catastrophic to base infrastructure.  The base is currently in the assessment and recovery stage.  (U.S. Air Force photo)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- As Hurricane Katrina struck the base, rising waters swallowed cars parked along streets. The base and the 6,000 sheltered military students, permanent party, civilians and their families survived the Category 4 hurricane with no casualties. The initial damage was catastrophic to base infrastructure. The base is currently in the assessment and recovery stage. (U.S. Air Force photo)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- As Hurricane Katrina struck the base, rising waters swallowed parked cars.  The base and the 6,000 sheltered military students, permanent party, civilians and their families survived the Category 4 hurricane with no casualties.  The initial damage was catastrophic to base infrastructure.  The base is currently in the assessment and recovery stage.  (U.S. Air Force photo)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- As Hurricane Katrina struck the base, rising waters swallowed parked cars. The base and the 6,000 sheltered military students, permanent party, civilians and their families survived the Category 4 hurricane with no casualties. The initial damage was catastrophic to base infrastructure. The base is currently in the assessment and recovery stage. (U.S. Air Force photo)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Facilities here received extensive damage following a direct hit on the base by Hurricane Katrina.  Officials are assessing the damage and are in contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  (U.S. Air Force photo)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Facilities here received extensive damage following a direct hit on the base by Hurricane Katrina. Officials are assessing the damage and are in contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (U.S. Air Force photo)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Facilities here received extensive damage following a direct hit on the base by Hurricane Katrina.  Officials are assessing the damage and are in contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  (U.S. Air Force photo)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Facilities here received extensive damage following a direct hit on the base by Hurricane Katrina. Officials are assessing the damage and are in contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (U.S. Air Force photo)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AETCNS) -- Base officials started assessment and recovery operations Aug. 30 after Hurricane Katrina hit the base Aug. 29.

"Initial reports showed drastic damage to the industrial and housing areas," said Maj Ray Mottley, 81st Civil Engineer Squadron commander. "Approximately 50 percent of the base was underwater. The commissary, base exchange and some of base housing had more than six feet of water.

"We don't have power on base due to the power outage in the local area. So we are using generators to power our critical facilities," Major Mottley said. "However, the base hospital is completely without power at this time due to the water surge from the Back Bay which flooded the basement."

In spite of the power outage, the air field is operational during daylight hours, and other utilities are available. "We have a fully operational sewage system and drinking water," Major Mottley said.

Base officials said about 35 critical patients were transported by medevac to Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland AFB, Texas.

One of the base dining facilities provided the first hot meal to the 6,000 base shelter residents the night of Aug. 30. "The plan is to have two hot meals a day," said Don Cook, 81st Services Squadron director. "Once we get more cooks, we can provide a morning and evening hot meal."

"The safety, health and well being of our Keesler family is our priority," said Brig. Gen. William Lord, 81st Training Wing commander. "Thankfully our people who sheltered in one of our certified hurricane shelters are safe, and we can now focus on reconstituting the base and reestablishing our mission.

"I'm proud how our team is working together to help each other make it through these difficult times," the general said. "I want everyone to know we are not alone and will do everything we can to keep people safe and get them home as soon as possible."

Base officials are in contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and commanders from surrounding military bases who have offered assistance.

Personnel scheduled to arrive at Keesler for technical training are ordered not to travel here until further notice. All inbound students, personnel moving to Keesler and those who evacuated are directed not to report here and must contact their assigned unit's control center at Keesler to find out when to return to base. The phone numbers are
posted on the Keesler public website: http://www.keesler.af.mil.

People unable to contact their assigned unit should continue calling. If the line is busy, call the Air Force Personnel Center at 1-800-435-9941 for further instructions on reporting to Keesler.

The Keesler website will also have the information posted as soon as it becomes available at http://www.keesler.af.mil.
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