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'We’ve waited a long time for this': Three years after flood, Offutt AFB finally rebuilding

Exact costs of the repair projects are unknown, but current estimates are around $700 million.
Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 21, 2022

BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — Offutt Air Force base looked rough three years ago. There were 137 damaged buildings, cars and dumpsters floating on water around the base, and 720 million gallons of water-damaged simulators worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The floodwater also affected the nuclear command and control.

“The immediate impact was pretty unbelievable,” said Col. Mark Himes, district commander of the Omaha office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The flood also displaced more than 3,000 airmen in the 55th Wing when operations moved to the Lincoln airport, which disrupted their mission.

“Working in two separate locations at one time, with the same amount of people, makes things really difficult,” said Col. Kristen Thompson, commander of the 55th Wing.

Col. Thompson of the 55th Wing said operations never stopped.

And now, over three years after the flood, soiled furniture is finally being cleared from facilities and walls are coming down to prepare for the construction of a more efficient 55th Wing.

“We’ve waited a long time for this. We’ve had to think our way through this and do it smartly,” said Eric Armstrong, acting director of 55th Wing program managing office for flood recovery.

The facilities being rebuilt include the nuclear command and control, satellite communications, logistics and the operations campus.

These campuses and others are now going to be linked closer together, making everything and everybody work more efficiently.

“Having us all kind of together in one location makes us a lot better,” said Thompson.

All of the facilities being rebuilt at Offutt are actually being rebuilt at ground level. Using a mound of soil as the base, officials at Offutt believe that will help keep the facilities dry during future floods.

“I’ve not heard of other installations that have done that. So, for our ability to do that Offutt is pretty special and pretty unique,” said Himes.

The base will be much better protected with levees around the base receiving around $750 million of repairs.

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