Air Force - Seabees - Marines

The cities of Gulfport and Biloxi have greatly benefitted from Keesler Air Force Base and the Naval Construction Battalion Center. Keesler Air Force Base suffered 30% damage during Hurricane Katrina. Keesler Medical Center suffered $80 million dollars in damage, mainly because of the devestating storm which flooded the the first floor and the basement and damaged the electrical distribution center.

BILOXI - Keesler Medical Center could have a submarine-like basement, said Brig. Gen. Jim Dougherty from his temporary office away from the hospital that he said will cost about $80 million to repair.

Dougherty, commander of the 81st Medical Group, said the hospital is tentatively scheduled to open to outpatients on Jan. 15. Inpatient care will begin in October 2006, but Graduate Medical Education will not resume until July 2007 at the earliest.

The medical center got water in the basement and first floor, when the Hurricane Katrina surge inundated the building. It wrecked the generators, the electrical system and the MRI and chemotherapy machines, among other equipment.

He said the main obstacle to overcome in opening the hospital is fixing the electrical distribution center. The generators and equipment lost to the flood had a total value of about $20 million, Dougherty said.SunHerald

It was a battle to save Keesler Medical Center from becoming an outpatient clinic during BRAC. The only reason it was on the list to begin with was that a mistake was made when the index was calculated. Brian Martin from Congressman Gene Taylor's found the mistake and it vastly improved Keesler's standing.

The Seabee base also suffered around 30% damage during Hurricane Katrina. But it hasn't stopped the Seabees nor the Marines stationed there from continuing it's vital commuinity service. The Seabees helped repair many of the local schools that were damaged and build temporary housing for those who lost their homes.

Local military continued their relief and humanitarian work last week with supply deliveries and debris removal, hosted an author and kicked off a Christmas toy drive.

As of Friday, Keesler Air Force Base personnel had conducted almost 200 different humanitarian missions in the area. Among the work the airmen have done were debris removal and dropping off humanitarian supplies at points in South Mississippi.

Keesler also hosted Air Force historians who came to collect information on the base's experiences during Hurricane Katrina. Historians also interviewed Brig. Gen. William Lord, who will relinquish command of the base on Nov. 15.

Marines from the 4th Amphibious Assault Battalion, Company A, 3rd Platoon launched their annual "Toys for Tots" Christmas drive for underprivileged children on Tuesday and received about 1,800 toy tractors from Agricultural and Industrial Product Service distributor at Sanders Tractor in Gulfport.

Members of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74, based in Gulfport, left Tuesday for deployments in Guam and Southwest Asia. SunHerald

The servicemen and women stationed at Keesler, the Seabee Base, and the National Guard are monumental in helping us rebuild the Coast. I cannot say enough how much they are appreciated. THANK YOU.


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