OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. — Flooding has forced the Air Force to cancel the 2019 Defenders of Freedom Open House and Air Show at Offutt Air Force Base south of Omaha.
Missouri River floodwater fed by heavy rain and snowmelt has covered about a third of the base and damaged dozens of buildings. Officials say, however, that the units based at Offutt remain capable of fulfilling their missions.
Only mission-essential personnel are working at the Nebraska base, which also hosts U.S. Strategic Command, and nine aircraft, including RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance planes, have been evacuated.
The commander of Offutt's 55th Wing, Col. Michael Manion, said Tuesday evening that "it is obvious it will be some time before we can return to normal operations or have the capacity to host an event like an air show and open house."
The famed Air Force aerobatics team, Thunderbirds, was scheduled to be featured at the June 1-2 event.
A new $1.3 billion military facility that will serve as the U.S.'s military command headquarters during national emergencies will soon open at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha.