NORMAN — The U.S. Air Force invoked the Alternate Safe Haven Authorities to except Tinker Air Force Base civilian personnel from furloughs if their homes were destroyed or declared inhabitable due to recent tornadoes in Oklahoma.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, Reps. Tom Cole, R-Moore, and James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, along with others, praised the decision.
“The men and women who have been displaced by the recent storms in Oklahoma deserve our full support as we continue the recovery process and begin to rebuild our communities,” Inhofe said. “The Airmen and civilians at Tinker Air Force Base live in and comprise the communities surrounding the base and are among those who have lost homes and possessions as a result of the devastating storms that recently tore through Oklahoma.”
During his recent visit to Oklahoma, President Barack Obama greeted tornado-affected military personnel at the base. Obama has twice landed at Tinker AFB, once for an energy tour of Cushing and more recently to tour tornado damage at Moore.
“The tragedy inflicted by the tornadoes is truly heartbreaking, impacting thousands of hardworking Oklahomans,” Cole said. “As we continue in the recovery process, I am pleased by Tinker’s announcement today that furloughs will except employees directly impacted by the storms. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it also proves that in times of crisis, we don’t turn our backs on Oklahomans in need.”
Cole has lived in Moore for 53 years, but his home escaped damage from the storm. He has spent a great deal of time in Moore and visiting other tornado disaster sites, including east Cleveland County, over the past two weeks.
Parts of Oklahoma City also were affected by the May 20 tornado.
“The civilians employees who lost their homes or whose homes were uninhabitable after the tornadoes will now have one less burden as they seek to rebuild their homes and their lives,” Lankford said. “Our community stands ready to continue to help our friends and neighbors who lost so much from these storms and the devoted civilian employees who still face furloughs late this summer.”
The Department of Defense plans to furlough civilian employees for 11 days to address budget cuts forced by sequestration.