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Air Force Secretary: 'We will rebuild Offutt Air Force Base'

Posted: 8:37 PM, Mar 22, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-23 01:37:41Z
Air Force Secretary: 'We will rebuild Offutt Air Force Base'

BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — Secretary of the United States Air Force Heather Wilson got a glimpse of the still flooded base today. She was joined by Congressman Don Bacon, Senator Deb Fischer and Colonel Michael Manion.

"STRATCOM was in the middle of an exercise as the waters rose, they didn't miss a beat, there was no mission that didn't keep going here at Offutt Air Force Base and that says something about this base,” says Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

Initially around 30 buildings used daily were submerged in water. Now that's down to just five.

"Everyday we're getting a little bit better,” says Col. Michael Manion, commander of the 55th Wing.

The damage could have been much worse. When Offutt officials learned the runway was going to flood they put on an all out assault, taking planes and other expensive equipment to dry ground.

"When the call came out for all hands on deck to do everything we could to defend this base against the rising water there was nothing but positive attitudes, strong backs, strong shoulders as we fought the water,” says Manion.

Still the repairs are going to be pricey.

"We're going to make sure we get funding and meet the needs here on the base,” says Wilson.

One project that already had funding was to repair the runway at Offutt sometime this year. The flood might have delayed that.

"Part of the runway was underwater, there's experts coming in, they're going to take a look at the taxi-ways, the runways and we'll make some decisions from a civil engineering point of view on what's the right thing to do,” says Manion.

At the end of her visit, Secretary Wilson says she realized just how resilient the 55th wing is.

"Mother nature can't beat the 55th wing."