Wake Island assessment nears completion

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Chris Vadnais
  • Air Force Print News
The damage assessment team from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, has moved into its second phase of operations here. After three days of comprehensive walk-through inspections on more than 135 facilities, the team has gathered enough data to begin putting together estimates.

When Super Typhoon Ioke swept over the atoll Aug. 31, it destroyed many of the island's buildings and much of its infrastructure. The damage assessment team deployed from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, Sept. 13 to calculate the cost of that destruction.

Physically walking through each building and getting a good look at the damage was the first phase of the assessment. The team is now referring to notes from those walk-throughs, discussing each individual facility and tallying the cost of the materials needed for repair or rebuilding.

The team set up a makeshift workcenter in the dayroom of their billeting building. A picnic table hosts a series of laptop computers, and civil engineers take turns banging away at the keyboards, entering data all day and night.

Senior Master Sgt. John Wilde said this is not necessarily the hardest part of the operation, but it takes the most time.

"It was pretty difficult getting out there in the debris and in the damaged facilities, making sure we were safe at the same time," he said. "This part is more time-consuming because we have to reference page after page after page in different estimate and construction books, and then bump that against our experience in what we would do for new construction or maintenance and repair."

Maj. Ron Pieri, 15th Civil Engineer Squadron operations officer, said the goal is to give Pacific Air Forces leadership three separate estimates: one for the cost of getting the base back to its condition before Ioke, which would include repairing old facilities and building new ones; one for the cost of restoring only the reparable facilities; and one for scaling the base down to an expeditionary airfield operation, making it simply a fuel station in the middle of the Pacific.

"We're putting dollar amounts on repairs and new construction so leaders can make a decision on what to do with Wake Island," Major Pieri said.