Julia Nesheiwat, Florida’s chief resilience officer, toured Tyndall Air Force Base on Tuesday. The base is in the midst of an ongoing reconstruction effort in the wake of last year’s Hurricane Michael.
TYNDALL AFB — Florida’s chief resilience officer, appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in August to help prepare the state for the environmental, physical and economic impacts of sea level rise, toured Tyndall Air Force Base on Tuesday.
GALLERY: Tyndall Air Force Base after Hurricane Michael
Julia Nesheiwat, who holds degrees from Stetson University and Georgetown University, and earned a doctorate from the Department of Science and Engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, brought a special expertise to her tour of Tyndall AFB, which was all but destroyed in October 2018 as the Category 5 Hurricane Michael scored a direct hit on the installation.
Nesheiwat’s doctoral thesis was titled “Post-Disaster Reconstruction in Energy Technology and Resiliency,” and on Tuesday, she was at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center's Research and Development Laboratory, housed at Tyndall AFB.
Tyndall AFB officials are looking at the rebuilding process as an opportunity to increase the base’s resiliency against future storms. On Tuesday, though, Nesheiwat defined resiliency more broadly than storm recovery.
“Resiliency is more than just a disaster relief issue, it’s a national security issue,” she said. And, she added, resiliency is particularly important locally with regard to Tyndall AFB, which she called “the lifeblood of the economy here ... .“
Of particular concern to the civil engineers at Tyndall AFB, Nesheiwat learned Tuesday, is the resiliency of the installation’s runways. When the runways are damaged from natural disasters, or even more ominously, when they might be attacked by an enemy, engineers have to figure out creative ways to repair them.
During her Tuesday visit, Nesheiwat learned how Tyndall’s engineers are using innovative techniques to repair severely damaged runways, often in less than six hours.
“We just heard today some of the resiliency measures that are being taken, the materials that are necessary to be able to respond in real time, and to be able to adapt to a potential natural disaster or enemy (activity),” said Nesheiwat.
Brig. Gen. Patrice Melancon, executive director of Tyndall AFB’s Program Management Office, which has a central role in the base’s ongoing reconstruction, said she hopes Nesheiwat’s visit will build an advocacy for resiliency at the state level.
“We talked a little about our resiliency efforts, including energy resiliency and coastal resiliency,” said Melancon as she recapped Nesheiwat’ visit. “I know the fact that this is federal property (means) it’s a little bit different, so we’re exploring what avenues might be out there for grant funding that might go to help us with some of those (resilience-related) costs.”
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