Selfridge hosts evacuated airplanes ahead of Hurricane Harvey

As thousands of people flee from Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma, airplanes are also temporarily evacuating to the arsenal at Selfridge.  It’s part of an effort to protect people, property, and the planes, which are necessary for our national defense, from Hurricane Irma’s path.

“When you’re talking Category Five winds - it can cause a lot of damage to houses. You can imagine what it does to an airplane,” said Commander John Slocum, from the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

Eight Navy planes from Jacksonville arrived to Selfridge Air National Guard base in Mount Clemens Friday. Navy commander Patrick Murphy says he’s grateful for Michigan’s support as he heads back to Jacksonville.

“A lot of people are boarding up their houses, getting water and other necessities to survive a few days without power,” said Lt. Patrick Murphy,

The P-8 planes, equivalent to Boeing-737s cost hundreds of millions of dollars. They’re especially useful for communication and are equipped with infrared sensors.

Slocum says nine planes were originally planned to arrive at Selfridge, but the last plane has been rerouted to New Orleans to help with humanitarian efforts. Some of those efforts include finding people who may be stranded, which makes the planes with infrared sensors a huge help.

"They can go out there and look in night, adverse weather, can designate hot and cold," said Slocum.

Slocum says they're preparing for more planes to come as Irma is expected to roar through Florida. Thankfully the base is designed to hold hundreds of aircrafts.

"All of the bases that are in the way of the hurricane want to move their airplanes and their people out of harm’s way," said Slocum.

Thankfully the base is designed to hold hundreds of aircrafts.

Meantime, the Boeing KC 135s or "stratotankers" are on standby as they can also carry people and cargo besides just fuel.  Slocum says it's likely that once Hurricane Irma passes the planes will quickly be picked up and brought back to Florida to help in recovery efforts.