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Tyndall AFB
A soldier stands guard at the damaged entrance to Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Fla. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Federal

Members of Congress to feds: Speed up Tyndall recovery

In a rare moment of bipartisanship during a fierce campaign season, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson joined Panhandle Congressman Neal Dunn to send a letter to the Department of Defense urging them to expedite repairs at Tyndall Air Force Base.

The base was critically damaged during Hurricane Michael.

The storm made landfall Wednesday near Mexico Beach, southeast of Panama City. Tyndall is directly in between the two cities and was in the path of Michael’s eye.

The Air Force described the damage sustained as “catastrophic.” High winds shredded hangars that were housing fighter jets.

An F-15 on display was flipped on over onto the ground. Vehicles were tossed around the parking lot. Even brand-new roofs were ripped from buildings.

The group of two Republicans and a Democrat explained that the base is home to the F-22 Raptor, the nation’s premier air-to-air fighter jet that ensures American military dominance in the skies.

The base also is home to the 601st Air Operations Center that serves as the front-line defense against threats to homeland security and conducts critical relief efforts after natural disasters like Hurricane Michael.

“The base serves a critical role in protecting and promoting U.S. national security interests and it is vital that we rapidly repair infrastructure and restore operations in the wake of the storm,” the group wrote.

The trio requested “consistent, immediate and detailed communication of the funding and support needed to repair infrastructure, restore operations and provide for local service members, civilians and their families.”

The storm made landfall as a strong Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 155 mph around the eyewall. That’s just 2 mph less than a Category 5, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale. It was the most powerful hurricane to hit north Florida.

Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were left without power as others suffered devastating wind and flood damage.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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