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Resiliency after the storm

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Emily Smallwood
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

“It’s almost apocalyptic driving to work and seeing everything that’s been destroyed,” said Senior Airman Taylor Bouchard, 337th Air Control Squadron weapons simulation technician.

Like many others, Bouchard has experienced firsthand the devastation of Hurricane Michael after it tore through the Northwest Florida Panhandle Oct. 10, 2018, leaving destruction in its path.

“I wasn’t sure how to react,” said Bouchard. “Being from the North, I’m not use to hurricanes. I definitely over prepared with food and water for myself, my daughter and my dog.”

When mandatory evacuation was ordered, Bouchard took her two-year old daughter and their dog to Orlando where they stayed with family that were in the area at the time.

After the storm passed, Bouchard made the difficult decision to send her daughter to live with her parents across the country while she stayed behind to help with the recovery process. She salvaged all that she could from what was left.

“The impact of the hurricane destroyed my home, totaled my other car and just turned everything upside down,” said Bouchard. “But I’m a very positive person and even when everything is destroyed, we’re just pushing forward from here.”

Almost two months after the hurricane, Bouchard returned to work. She turned down an opportunity for a humanitarian personal change of station and is currently starting over in a new home, as well as finding a new daycare for her daughter’s return.

“I feel like this place is my home, it’s my first base and I’ve grown really close to the people here,” said Bouchard. “I wanted to be a part of bringing it back to what it was or better than what it was.”

Even though the situation has been difficult, Bouchard said her leadership has been there for her every step of the way and she has been fortunate not to face any insurmountable barriers while getting back on her feet.  

“I have so much faith in the people that I work with,” said Bouchard. “It’s not necessarily the buildings we work in that keep us going, it’s the people, we’re a family. I’m just remaining positive through it all and sticking with the people around me to get the mission done.”