Skip to comments.Katrina takes heavy toll at Keesler
Posted on 08/31/2005 6:08:03 PM PDT by SandRat
SAN ANTONIO -- Hurricane Katrina smashed a good 95 percent of Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., turning it into a pile of debris and mud, said a base spokesperson.
Lt. Col. Claudia Foss, 81st Training Wing public affairs officer, said water surges from the Gulf of Mexico and the Bay of Biloxi reached depths of five to six feet at times.
Whether it was five feet, one foot or a few inches, at one point everything was covered with bay or Gulf water, she said.
Fortunately, there have been no reports of people killed or injured at Keesler, she said. More than 6,000 people rode out the storm in seven shelters at the base and all are accounted for. But elsewhere the storm has claimed at least 68 lives and the death toll is expected to rise.
The colonel said what the base looks like now compares to being in Iraq because of the destruction and debris scattered everywhere. The storm knocked trees down or stripped them of their limbs.
Power lines are down, she said. Weve got light poles that are just bent over and theres nothing around them -- so how did they bend over? Everywhere you walk, theres either debris, trees that have fallen over or mud and muck.
According to officials at the Air Force Climatology Center at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., the maximum winds at the base gusted to more than 90 mph. And sustained winds of 50 mph buffeted the base for most of the time.
The devastation at the base near Biloxi is widespread, as it is along the Gulf Coast and further inland. Floodwaters destroyed much of the base housing area and heavily damaged industrial areas, the colonel said. And the storm damaged a big part of the base runway.
In many homes, there was three feet of water, said Colonel Foss, who lost her home to the flooding. In my house, the wall facing the bay is gone.
The colonel said one home burned down. Other homes less damaged by flooding are not liveable, she said.
Near the base front gate that faces the Gulf, six-foot deep water flooded the commissary and exchange stores. Many buildings have missing roofs and walls. Teams are working to clear as much debris as possible so people can return to their homes for the first time since moving into shelters late last week.
So were anticipating how folks are going to react, the colonel said. She said many will find their homes destroyed. But at least they can make an initial assessment on whether or not they can salvage anything.
To help people cope with the events of the past few days, teams of chaplains and life skills specialists are available at each shelter, Colonel Foss said.
Definitely, were taking care of our active duty members and their families, she said.
There is no power at the base hospital, so patients must move elsewhere. Medical personnel from Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland AFB, Texas, left for Keesler Aug. 30 to help evacuate about 25 patients, medical center officials said. Three critical care teams and one obstetrics team left on a C-130 Hercules. Keesler officials will evacuate less critical patients to on-base shelters.
The base runway, while damaged, can still support C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 transport aircraft, the colonel said. The aircraft will help bring in relief supplies, Colonel Foss said.
Help is starting to flow into the base, she said. Teams from the Navy base at Pensacola, Fla., are flying helicopters into the base to help. The Navy, she said, will send search and rescue teams to the base.
Airmen at other bases are ready to lend a hand as soon as possible, the colonel said. A team of Red Horse engineers is one of the first expected to arrive. They will help clear debris and help get the base back on track.
Keesler might be broken at the moment, but its people have not given up hope of starting again, Colonel Foss said.
Family support here has been phenomenal, she said. And were taking care of each other. (Contributing to this report: Master Sgt. Orville Desjarlais, Air Force Print News; Lois Walsh, Eglin AFB, Fla.; and Sue Campbell, Wilford Hall Medical)
Keesler AFB gets its property KICKED by Katrina! Troops and families safe (fingers crossed).
I have pics of it from this morning, but I don't know how to post them here. I got them from my friend who is stationed in Kuwait, got them send there via email, supposed to come back in two weeks, apartment in Biloxi most likely gone, girlfriend still missing, and no where to go...............
Can any of you help out Mon?
We lost Homestead AFB from Andrew, now it looks like we've lost Keesler.
Anyone else out there that can help?
I was at Keesler in 1982 for tech training. If memory serves me correctly, this is a pic of the base movie theatre.
Oops, my bad. I blew up the pic. Not the theatre.
Thanks! Heard from people already to post the pics :)
Maybe,...maybe not; Engineers need to evaluate.
Glad to be of assistance.
Yours or his?
Either way, prayers for all.
It must look similar. I was there for training in Summer of '88 and I thought it was the theatre too.
Either that or I'm getting old.
Towards the bottom on this side they have "town by town" damage etc.
check it out
looking for loved ones SunHerald, newspaper Biloxi
Tell loved ones where you are (also SunHerald)
It does look similar. I blew up the pic and it's the Pass Road visitors center, probably at the Pass Road gate. I went through that gate every day for 8 months because my wife and I lived in a little apartment on Pass Road.
Thank you, I was born at Keesler but Camile took care of that hosptial.
I know Star has been most generous to help me. Perhaps we can ask???
The last eight pic's are little red boxes.
Eaker & I were at Keesler several years ago, where we were given a personal tour of the Ticonderoga.
I saw pic's today of the bridge from Biloxi to Keesler - - amazing! Looks like fallen dominoes.
I wonder if it will be added to the list of bases to be closed? There was an air force base in Florida that was closed after Hurricane Andrew heavily damaged it in 1992.