Robins leaders say now is the time to plan and prepare for whatever storms may come our way
Author: Katelyn Heck, 13WMAZ, Updated: 7:16 AM EDT May 13, 2019
While many people in Florida and south Georgia began picking up after Hurricane Michael last year, many groups at Robins Air Force Base started to pack up.
“We helped clear the roads,” said 116th Air Control Wing Commander Colonel Ato Crumbly. “The state troopers, first responders, the medics, they have to use the available roads to move trees, bushes, or debris.”
Their active duty partners with the 461st Air Control Wing also made their way south to Tyndall Air Force Base.
“Within about 18 hours, we had people in the back of CV-22s and C-130s going down to Tyndall Air Force Base in order to help re-open their runways, and all of that was in preparation for heavy planes to bring in teams,” said 461st Commander Colonel Curt Bass.
It was not the first time either of these groups pitched in after a natural disaster, and it likely won’t be the last.
“I want to be on the preventative side now,” said Col. Crumbly. “I have things now that aren’t broken, but they might break. So, I want to make sure that I get in front of that, so just in case it does, no citizen of Georgia has to go without, because I didn’t prepare.”
He says the work members of JSTARS puts in every day prepares them for responding during a natural disaster. Crumbly says they can use the same surveillance and communication they provide to troops in war zones to help survey damage after a storm.
“If we can see a bridge is still there, we’ll let them know, ‘you need to move your resources over to this place where this bridge is not intact.’ It saves time and resources on the ground,” said Col. Crumbly.
They aren’t the only eyes in the sky. It’s the job of the Air Force Reserve Command to deploy the Hurricane Hunters out of Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.
The planes fly right into the eye of the storm to collect important data for forecasters. Right now, they are also in preparation mode as they tour areas of the Caribbean.
“To get their folks ready,” said AFRC Deputy Commander Major General Kenneth Lewis. “To understand the area they’re going to fly in, to get more acquainted.”
The Fifth Combat Communications group at Robins also headed south after Hurricane Michael. They set up systems to help Tyndall Air Force Base begin limited operations after the storm.