One-third of Offutt Air Force Base Offutt AFB Home Of Strategic Command Of The USAF’s Is Flooding, 60 buildings damaged
Even the U.S. Air Force couldn’t stop the Mighty Missouri River from flooding Offutt Air Force Base.
Between Saturday night and early Sunday, the 55th Wing called off a 30-hour, round-the-clock sandbagging effort because the floodwaters were rising too fast.
“It was a lost cause. We gave up,” said Tech. Sgt. Rachelle Blake, a 55th Wing spokeswoman.
By Sunday morning, one-third of the base was underwater, she said. Thirty buildings, including the 55th Wing headquarters and the two major aircraft maintenance facilities, had been flooded with up to 8 feet of water, and 30 more structures damaged. About 3,000 feet of the base’s 11,700-foot runway was submerged. No one, though, had been injured.
Offutt Air Force Base sits near Omaha, Nebraska and is considered one of the most critical installations in the U.S. Air Force’s portfolio. Not only does it house extremely high-value, but low-density reconnaissance and command and control aircraft—massively expensive platforms that are essential to national security—but it is also the beating heart of STRATCOM that oversees America’s strategic nuclear forces. In fact, a brand new command bunker, buried underground at the base, was just opened in January—which sounds far less than ideal considering water is now nearly covering the end of the base’s runway.
But still, considering the strategic operations centers that are the backbone of STRATCOM are located at the base, many of which are underground, this flood could prove to be way more harmful than the damage done to aircraft and basic infrastructure above ground. Hopefully, the waters crest without that being the case and Airman have been hard at work filling tens of thousands of sandbags to help protect key areas. Also, a 740 foot long, four-foot tall system of barriers was flown in from Louisiana so that a building housing the base’s highly expensive flight simulators could have at least some protection from being flooded.
This Twitter thread showing just how horrible the flooding is in Nebraska:
#NebraskaFloods seen by #Sentinel2 ??? pic.twitter.com/bKKlVSVcCM
— Copernicus EU (@CopernicusEU) March 17, 2019
A conga line of RC-135s were tracked escaping the impending deluge earlier today.
Multiple RC-135 variants are currently evacuating from @Offutt_AFB due to flooding. pic.twitter.com/Y8ytNIhadw
— Aircraft Spots (@AircraftSpots) March 17, 2019
It looks like at least five planes were left at the base—four RC-135s and an E-4B. Even the fuel storage facilities and satcom array areas are under water.
Nearly the entire east apron, and the hangars support buildings that sit on and around it, are under water. Some of that water is remarkably deep.