U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Congressmen Frank Lucas (R-Okla.-3), Tom Cole (R-Okla.-4), James Lankford (R-Okla.-5), Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.-1) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.-2) today praised the decision from the Air Force to invoke Alternate Safe Haven Authorities which would except Tinker Air Force Base civilian personnel from furloughs whose homes were destroyed or declared inhabitable as a result of the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma.
"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," said Inhofe. "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. Today's decision from the Air Force to except the civilian employees from furloughs whose homes were lost or destroyed in the storms is another gesture of the benevolence and compassion our country continues to demonstrate to the people of Oklahoma."
Congressman Frank Lucas added, "I am pleased the Air Force has announced they will be invoking Alternate Safe Haven Authorities to exempt Tinker Air Force Base civilians, whose homes have been destroyed by recent storms, from being furloughed. Removing this additional burden is necessary for these civilian employees to rebuild and get back on their feet. I will continue to keep those affected by the devastating tornadoes in my thoughts and prayers as they recover."
"The tragedy inflicted by the tornados is truly heartbreaking, impacting thousands of hardworking Oklahomans," said Congressman Tom Cole. "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. The last couple of weeks have been extremely difficult for thousands of families across the state. Recovery will take time, but as Tinker has proven through this announcement, we will work through this tragedy together."
Congressman Lankford added, "I want to express my deepest gratitude to the United States Air Force for instituting an Alternate Safe Haven to exempt Tinker AFB families impacted by the tornadoes from furlough notices. 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. 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."
"I applaud the Air Force for employing flexibility and common sense in the wake of the tornadoes," said Bridenstine. "If all of the sequestration cuts were applied with rationality, federal expenses could be controlled without jeopardizing truly important programs."
Congressman Mullin continued, "The Air Force delivered great news today for those who serve our men and women in the armed forces, those who sacrifice much on a daily basis for us to live in peace. These employees work side by side with our Airmen--they are our families, our neighbors and our friends. Invoking the Alternate Safe Haven Authorities is critical for these Oklahoma families affected by the recent devastating storms. The recovery will continue for quite some time, but today's announcement is a great first step to rebuilding. As Oklahomans, we are resilient and we will continue to remain united and work to build back stronger than before."
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley added, "This is the right thing to do. 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 Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III added, "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. We will continue to support those affected by these storms in any way we can."
The Department of Defense plans to furlough civilian employees for 11 days to address budget cuts forced by sequestration.