Artillery: September 22, 2004

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Military bases are just as vulnerable to hurricane damage as any other large industrial facility. Despite the ability of the military to have its disciplined work force quickly batten down a base for a storm, the damage is still considerable. A recent example is what happened to Pensacola Naval Air Station when hurricane Ivan hit. This base employs over 23,000 people, 60 percent of them military. It is a major training facility for naval aviators. After Ivan passed through, most of the base roads were left impassable. The only electrical power available was using generators, and then only to a few buildings. Because of the power loss, there was no water and sewage service. There were also gas leaks all over the base. It was found that every building on the base suffered damage, and 90 percent of the buildings had suffered significant damage. At least ten percent of the power lines were down. Major concrete structures, like runways, were OK, as were sturdy buildings like the air control tower. All but a few hundred people (left behind for security duty) were evacuated, as were all the flyable aircraft. In the past, hurricane damage to large military bases has easily run to several hundred million dollars. The hit on Pensacola appears to be headed for the high end of that range.

 


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