Air Force excepts civilians affected by recent tornadoes from furlough

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The Air Force announced Monday, 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 Monday to ensure all authorities were reviewed and applied to mitigate the impact on those affected by tornados.

"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 tornados 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.

"We are focused on providing our people with the support they need to recover from these disasters," said Col. Steven Bleymaier, 72nd Air Base Wing and Tinker installation commander.

Additionally, the colonel noted that specific local implementation procedures for Safe Haven will be provided once finalized.

"The Emergency Family Assistance Center located in the Tinker Airman and Family Readiness Center remains our top resource for obtaining on-base support," said Colonel Bleymaier, "but victims of the storms have many additional resources. There is a massive amount of help available from private organizations as well as local, state and federal government agencies.

A special website has been established at www.tinker.af.mil to assist folks in getting the help they need.

Airmen throughout the state have volunteered to assist residents and fellow Tinker Airmen in recovering from the effects of the EF-5 tornado that ripped through the city of Moore, May 20.

Dubbed "Helping Families Day," more than 600 civilian and military Team Tinker volunteers participated in a disaster relief clean-up event on May 24.

In announcing the event, Colonel Bleymaier said, "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."

"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."

(Capt. Lindsey Hahn, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, contributed to the article)