About ten families who evacuated from Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida because of Hurricane Michael are temporarily calling Shaw Air Force Base their home.
“They were told the storm was coming, to evacuate… to pack for 72 hours. We all know the rest of that story. There’s nothing to go back to,” said former Sumter mayor Steve Creech, who now is the Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee of the Sumter Chamber of Commerce.
“You’ve seen the videos. Those houses are demolished,” he said.
The Shaw-Sumter Community Council has begun organizing a relief effort for those families from Tyndall AFB who lost everything.
“What we’re trying to do is something that will help them and help them immediately — is to collect money. We have a 501(c)3 set up and it’s called the Support of Shaw,” Creech said. “The easiest thing is monetary gifts. When you start collecting canned goods and diapers and that kind of stuff and used clothing, that creates another problem in itself.”
The families have been temporarily relocated to Shaw until they can be reassigned elsewhere or can return to Tyndall. Engineers closed 80 percent of the buildings on the Florida base due to damage.
“They’ve got so many of them that they’re trying to work out,” Creech said. “In the meantime, they’re still trying to get Tyndall operational again. They still have aircraft down there that need to be flown. The Air Force has folks down there that are setting that base up on a temporary basis just like we would do if we went to the Middle East and had to set up a base somewhere.”
Leaders at Tyndall indicated it could be quite some time before the installation is operational again.
“This week, the number of Airmen at Tyndall working to recover our base passed 1,000. Our fellow Airmen have come from all over the country to partner with some of our own who remained behind. I couldn’t be more proud of how much this team has accomplished in such a short time,” a Facebook post from 325th Fighter Wing Commander Col Brian S. Laidlaw states.
“This past week, we opened our gates again for residents to access their personal property in housing and storage,” the post continued.
During a tour of the damage by ranking Air Force officials, one officer told the group he was stationed at Shaw when Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989.
“Keep these folks in your prayers,” said Creech. “We want to make their stay here in South Carolina one that they’ll never forget. We want to make it an enjoyable one and if we spoil them a little bit, so what?”
Send donations to:
The Support of Shaw
P.O. Box 1449
Sumter, S.C. 29151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mark Partin at 803-305-5058
Video Courtesy Tyndall Air Force Base/DVIDS