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A photo taken over Wake Island during an aerial assessment by the Coast Guard after Typhoon Ioke shows badly-damaged buildings on the island.

A photo taken over Wake Island during an aerial assessment by the Coast Guard after Typhoon Ioke shows badly-damaged buildings on the island. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)

A decision about the future of the Air Force facility on Wake Island, devastated last August by Super Typhoon Ioke, is expected later this month, officials told Stars and Stripes.

Wake has served for decades as a stopover and refueling site for military and commercial aircraft transiting the Pacific.

Starting in 1974, it was used by the U.S. military and for emergency landings.

A decision is expected from Pacific Air Forces sometime in late January, according to a statement from Maj. Clare Reed, spokeswoman for the 15th Airlift Wing, Wake’s parent command at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

Ioke, a Category 5-equivalent tropical cyclone, passed just north of Wake overnight Aug. 30 and into the morning of Aug. 31, packing sustained 161-mph winds and 198-mph gusts. Weather sensors on the island detected wind gusts of nearly 100 mph before they were knocked out.

Joint Typhoon Warning Center advisories warned of maximum wave height of 50 feet; Wake’s highest point is 20 feet. It was feared the island group would be totally submerged by Ioke.

A small detachment of about 200, mostly civilian contractors, who inhabit the atoll were evacuated to Hickam on two C-17 cargo aircraft two days before Ioke hit.

It was several days before a military survey team could make it to Wake to assess the damage. They reported that 70 percent of the island’s buildings sustained moderate to severe damage and the power grid and water works were completely destroyed.


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