‘The house was shaking:’ NAS Pensacola Commanding Officer describes Sally

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PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Damage assessments are continuing onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola after Hurricane Sally made landfall Wednesday morning.

NAS Pensacola Commanding Officer Capt. Tim Kinsella’s historic home on base was damaged along with others nearby where high-ranking military commanders live.

“I think it is the highest spot on NAS Pensacola,” Capt. Kinsella said. “A lot of old historical homes here. Some of the damage to these homes was pretty catastrophic. My house is right next to this one… and it was honestly like a freight train going over the house for 12 or 18 hours nonstop. The house was shaking and it’s here on the bluff, the wind just rises up and hits all the houses. It’s very sad to see. Once the wind subsided… and I got out on the roads to get initial damage assessments… I got to be honest with you it was pretty sad to drive around the base and see the amount of devastation.”

Dozens of large oak trees were knocked over on the base including at the golf course. There are two Skanska construction barges that ended up getting loose and crashing close to the base.

Capt. Kinsella is thankful no one was hurt. He said they have been through a lot on base in his short time here including the Dec. 6, 2019, terrorist attack.

“I’ve been in this job for 18 months now and we’ve been through our shares of crises here,” Capt. Kinsella said. “More than the average one. Even if one of those crises happened in a command tour is a big deal but to have four in the past 10 months and every time what amazes me is the resiliance of the people here. From our 18-year-old kids right out of high school going to school here to the seasoned veterans that have been working on this base… some 35-40 years… as soon as the storm passed, they were out here in numbers to make sure our students on board were getting fed. We had unaccompanied housing personnel in there getting the dry vacs out to clean out the rooms moving students to where they need to be.”

Right now, only essential personnel is being allowed here on base as they continue their assessment.

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