Extreme Flooding Submerges Strategic Military Base in Nebraska

The Pentagon and US intelligence community warned this year that climate change is a national security threat.

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Mar 19 2019, 12:00pm

Image: Offutt Air Force Base

Extreme flooding has submerged the home of the Pentagon’s “nuclear strategic deterrence and global strike capabilities,” according to Task & Purpose.

One-third of Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska is underwater after torrential rains and snow from a “bomb cyclone” pummeled the Midwest, causing “historic flooding” of the Platte and Missouri rivers.

Two people were killed as a result of the cyclone, and two are missing as of Monday morning. Hundreds of homes in Iowa and Nebraska have been flooded, triggering a state of emergency and disaster declarations across parts of the Midwest region. More than 10 million people were under flood warnings as of Friday, reported the Washington Post.

Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Image: Offutt Air Force Base

Some have noted the event is a reminder of the threat that extreme weather exacerbated by climate change poses to national security operations and infrastructure—a threat that the Pentagon is acutely aware of.

The Pentagon warned of such a threat in a January report that called “the effects of a changing climate...a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operational plans, and installations.”

The report said that 35 Air Force installations are vulnerable to climate effects, with 20 current and 25 potential sites at risk of flooding (however, Offutt was not listed as one of these sites).

At Offutt, officials noticed floodwaters beginning to inundate the installation on Friday, according to a Sunday statement. Personnel have since tried to secure the base “with more than 235,000 sandbags and 460 flood barriers to minimize damage as much as possible.”

Also released in January was the Worldwide Threat Assessment, a report compiled under the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and intended to convey the consensus of the US intelligence community.

“Global environmental and ecological degradation, as well as climate change, are likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent through 2019 and beyond,” the report said.

President Trump predictably did not support the DNI report’s findings, and shortly after, the White House stated its intent to challenge the assessment’s findings on climate change.

Scientists have repeatedly warned that climate change will worsen extreme weather events. A joint report published by NASA and NOAA this year spotlighted 14 climate and weather disasters in the US in 2018, each amounting to at least $1 billion in direct losses.

Though it’s difficult to directly peg isolated events to large climatic shifts, we can likely expect more and deadlier disasters to come.

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