Naval Air Station Truman Annex experienced heavy flooding after an estimated 6 inches to a foot of flood waters soaked through military housing and other base infrastructure. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nicholas V. Huynh.
First responders evacuated 61 military members and their family members from base housing in Key West after Hurricane Ian passed over Naval Air Station Key West the night of Tuesday, Sept. 27.
The hurricane arrived with “higher-than-forecast” storm surge, according to the Navy, flooding homes on the base's Truman Annex and Sigsbee Park housing. The flooding was made worse by the natural increase in high tide due to a new moon cycle.
According to the Navy, NAS Key West emergency responders evacuated 61 residents from base housing and relocated them to the Navy Gateway Inn and Suites. Not long after, Capt. Elizabeth Regoli, commanding officer of NAS Key West, issued a mandatory evacuation for Sigsbee Park residents living in the low-lying areas.
The Army’s Special Forces Underwater Operations School, which sits on a peninsula on NAS Key West, lost power multiple times as Hurricane Ian passed through.
Hurricane Ian kicked up heavy debris, damaging several homes located on Naval Air Station Key West on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nicholas V. Huynh.
Rear Adm. Wes McCall, the commander of the US Navy Region Southeast, said in a press release that mandatory evacuations have been ordered for Charlotte, Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, and Sarasota counties.
“Do not wait for physical orders to evacuate,” McCall said. “If you are covered by my authorization, evacuation orders will be issued by your parent command, and that can be done after you are safe.”
As Ian made its way north on Thursday, Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina was put in Hurricane Condition 2, and its fleet of C-17s was evacuated. No mandatory evacuation was announced for Shaw Air Force Base, 100 miles northwest.
Hurricane Ian moved northeast through Florida after impacting the west coast, with the eye of the storm going over Fort Myers and Naples. A number of first-floor homes are flooded up to the roof, some are floating away, and vehicles are getting carried away.
Naples Fire Department firefighters scrambled to pull valuable equipment out from their fire engines as they started to fill with water Wednesday afternoon. In one instance, the waterlogged firefighters enacted a rescue with the help of local residents on personal watercraft; in another, they trudged through chest-high water to rescue someone.
US Special Operations Command Headquarters released a press release late Wednesday thanking service members and their families for heeding orders to evacuate dangerous areas, saying it helped the headquarters maintain critical functions through the command center established in Tampa and the National Capital Region.
“Please be patient. We’ll share specifics once we have more details,” the USSOCOM release states. “But it starts, and ends, with concern for our people.”
Read Next: As Hurricane Ian Nears MacDill AFB, Some Airmen Pay for Their Own Evacuation
Joshua Skovlund has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis that followed the death of George Floyd. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he earned his CrossFit Level 1 certificate and worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. He went on to work in paramedicine for more than five years, much of that time in the North Minneapolis area, before transitioning to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion, where he publishes poetry focused on his life experiences.
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