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Tue, Dec 26, 2006

ERAU Begins Cleanup, Recovery From Christmas Tornado

ANN RealTime Update: 122606, 1455 EST: ERAU has updated their current status with a more recent official statement... attached below.

Updated ERAU Press Statement

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has begun the recovery effort following yesterday's destructive tornado that caused extensive damage to the Daytona Beach campus.

Damage estimates are being assessed for both buildings and the fleet of airplanes. The university administration is committed to being operational again for the beginning of classes in January. Efforts are already underway to find replacement airplanes for those that were damaged or destroyed, and structural engineers are looking at the various campus buildings to establish which can quickly be repaired and which will be off limits for the present.

The university has a goal of making space available for all classes, establishing working offices for the administration personnel who were housed in Spruance Hall, one of the most seriously damaged buildings, and making sure there is work space for all staff and faculty.I t should be noted that the student resident halls were not damaged in any way.

As clean-up and repair continues, only individuals who are directly involved in that effort will be allowed on campus. 

ANN RealTime Update: 122606, 0817 EST: ERAU officials have confirmed that 50 to 60 aircraft have been damaged, many of them heavily so, in the Christmas tornado that swept through a 100 foot wide section of the DAB airport campus. In statements to local media, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University President John Johnson has promised that the university will re-open in time for the start of class schedules on Jan. 10.

Johnson also expressed his relief that none of the ERAU staff, faculty or students were injured. ERAU offiicals have indicated that they will be placing calls to Cessna Aircraft Company in order to secure leased replacements for the aircraft destroyed or incapacitated in this incident.

ANN has received a number of staggering pix from the site, taken just after the tornado hit, by Steven Abreu. Steven was on the North Side of the campus when the tornado came through and was in an excellent position to capture the fury of what an F2 tornado can do when Mother Nature decides to have a REALLY bad day. ANN appreciates Mr. Abreu's assistance with the coverage of this story and his permission to share these images.

Official ERAU Press Statement (Issued Late On Christmas Day)

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Daytona Beach campus suffered extensive damage from the severe Christmas Day storm that hit the Daytona area. There is substantial damage to several buildings on campus including the administration building, Spruance Hall, and the Student Center. The maintenance hangar was destroyed and there was damage to a high percentage of the fleet of planes.

The recovery is already underway and every effort is being made to have everything operational when classes resume in January - including using rental planes for the flight line.

In the meantime, people are asked not to visit the campus until it is declared safe by the authorities. At that time, there will be an advisory noting that the campus is again open.

ANN RealTime Update: 122506, 2205 EST: ANN has now seen extensive evidence, in both video and still formats, of the vicious destruction that has befallen ERAU. We've seen well over a dozen seperate aircraft that appear to be mangled beyond repair... several that fit the description of having "been rolled up into a ball." It is hard to count how many aircraft are destroyed as several appear to have been rolled into and through each other. It is now obvious that ERAU has suffered millions of dollars of damage in this now-confirmed F2 tornado... more info to follow.

Initial RealTime Report: A Christmas Afternoon tornado, spawned by an aggressive line of thunderstorms (some of the worst we've felt in months as they came over ANN HQ building - ANN E-I-C), has done extensive damage to the Daytona Beach International Airport, and most specifically, to at least 50 of some 65 aircraft reported by officials at ERAU.

Damage includes aircraft that had been ripped loose from tie-downs, flipped over in the winds and several with wings that were literally torn from the aircraft. 

There are multiple reports of extensive damage to a maintenance hangar in the ERAU complex, which did additional damage to several aircraft within and a small fire in a support building is also blamed on this meteorological assault. 

Airport officials indicate that they have no significant reports of damage or threats to commercial aircraft operations at the airport and that such traffic was returning to normal.

Additional damage to the area's homes (mobile home parks in particular), and other structures were reported, though injuries have been reported to be minimal with only one, thus far, requiring hospitalization.

Various reports classified the tornado as high as an F2... ANN will offer additional details as they develop. 

[Tornado damage pix provided, with permission, by photographer Steven Abreu]

FMI: www.erau.edu

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