Sheppard AFB takes ‘crawl, walk, run”‘ approach to reopening after winter weather

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WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Schools, businesses, restaurants, and even military bases were reminded the hard way, that Texoma isn’t built for wintry weather.

“When you have those numbers of people here at the installation for training, then you drop 12 inches of snow into the middle of that operation, everything comes grinding to a halt,” Installation & 82nd Training Wing commander Brigadier General Kenyon Bell said.

Forcing something that doesn’t happen often, Sheppard Air Force Base shutting down for an entire week.

But as forecasts came in, they were prepared.

“As we saw this coming, we really had to bed down all the aircrafts, whether they were hangered or under shelter appropriately,” 80th Flying Training Wing commander Colonel Robert Haas said.

With aircrafts grounded and sheltered, the base closed everything on the installation: the grocery store, the mall, anything to encourage people to stay inside.

Then, they got to work, with what they had.

“This somewhat of a joke, but there’s a lot of reality in it,” Brigadier General Bell said. “We have two plows and a broom.”

Plowing miles of empty primary and secondary streets on base, through two waves of a winter storm.

“A phenomenal group of five people with the vehicles i just spoke about, they worked really hard to clear that away,” Brigadier General Bell said.

From clearing roadways , to cleaning up damages from busted pipes.

It could be demoralizing at times, but Brigadier General Bell said everyone stepped up, in anyway possible.

“To see whatever streaming down in areas, to get the water turned off. Then just a lot of people volunteering to come down and move the equipment away and reposition them to a different location,” Brigadier General Bell said.

Those who helped, stepped up in more ways than one

“The humanity was just amazing, you know to listen to people talk about the stories, all the way from hey I’m going to cook you a hot meal, bring you over some hot chocolate, to shoveling sidewalks and driveways,” Brigadier General Bell said.

Much like the rest of the city, many dealt with outages and lack of heat, rescue missions for cars on the side of the road and others off base became regular.

Now, they emerge into a new week, ready to resume operations.

“To climb out of that, and that we were able to fly today, is fantastic, but it’s a crawl, walk, run approach,” Colonel Robert Haas said.

Back to journeying the skies high above Texoma.

“It’s such a great reminder of what we do when we can see planes flying and hear that noise above,” Brigadier General Bell said.

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