$950 million - That's the amount of damage Brigadier General Paul Capasso says Keesler Air Force Base sustained after Hurricane Katrina. Now, after phase one of a four-year plan, the Commander of the 81st wing met with other military leaders Tuesday morning, to explain how the base is moving forward.
"The recovery aspect is forefront on our mind. The biggest thing that we have done over the last year is our training aspect. Last year, Keesler Air Force Base trained and graduated 27,000 students," says Brigadier General Paul Capasso.
While training operations are in full swing, Keesler's Medical Center is still a work in progress. With hurricane damages totaling $100 million, General Capasso says it won't be until July before the hospital is fully operational again.
"We've had very good support from our senators in delegation. They have worked very hard to get us the money to move forward. Money is really not a problem. Basically, as we look out to the future, the whole community is rebuilding and there is a small labor pool and we are competing with each other as we do the rebuilding process," says General Capasso.
"A lot of the bases had damage. The good thing is the only one that was closed after that was the Pascagoula Naval Station, and it was already scheduled to be closed by BRAC. So the storm didn't close any of our bases, and that is great," says Retired Brigadier General Joe Spraggins.
As bases along the Coast continue to rebuild, commanders have a positive outlook on military life along the Coast.