Air Force exempting Okla. tornado victims from furloughs

Tinker AFB civilians whose homes were 'destroyed or declared inhabitable' not part of 11-day work halt

Air Force exempting Okla. tornado victims from furloughs

Airmen help a resident search through the debris looking for salvageable items May 22, 2013, in Moore, Okla. An EF-5 tornado, with winds reaching at least 200 mph, traveled for 20 miles, leaving a two-mile-wide path of destruction, leveling homes, crushing vehicles, and killing more than 20 people May 20, 2013. More than 115 Oklahoma National Guard members have been activated to assist in the rescue and relief efforts. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Jonathan Snyder)

By Capt. Lindsey Hahn
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

WASHINGTON — The Air Force announced Monday, June 3, that civilian employees whose homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by the recent Oklahoma tornadoes will be "excepted" from administrative furlough.

While most Air Force civilian employees received their notices May 28, Tinker Air Force Base delayed notifying their employees until today to ensure all authorities were reviewed and applied to mitigate the impact on those affected by tornadoes.

"This is the right thing to do," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley. "Despite some facing devastating personal circumstances, our Oklahoma-based civilian employees have shown their resilience time and time again. The least we can do is remove this additional burden."

Air Force leaders made the decision to invoke Alternate Safe Haven Authorities, which prohibits furlough by law, as the Oklahoma City area endured additional deadly tornadoes last weekend. Tinker AFB sustained some damage from area tornadoes May 31 including roof damage and flooding. Aircraft were previously evacuated to Davis-Monthan AFB near Tucson, Ariz.

The authorities are retroactive to when Col. Steven J. Bleymaier, the 72nd Air Base Wing commander, directed the evacuation May 20.

Airmen throughout the state have volunteered to assist residents and fellow Tinker AFB Airmen in recovering from the effects of the EF5 tornado that ripped through the city of Moore, May 20.

More than 600 civilian and military Airmen participated in a Memorial Day clean-up event, dubbed "Helping Families Day."

"Let's show the state and the nation our Team Tinker fighting spirit by helping our fellow Oklahomans and Tinker Teammates during their time of need," Col. Bleymaier said.

"I couldn't be more proud of our Airmen and the selfless care and support they've shown for each other and their neighbors in the community," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. "We will continue to support those affected by these storms in any way we can."

The Department of Defense intends to start up to 11-days of civilian furloughs July 8 to address budget cuts forced by sequestration.