Hurricane Michael's crash into the Florida Panhandle dealt a devastating blow to one of the nation's critical military installations, according to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. That's the bad news. But the good news is military commanders successfully evacuated 11,000 base personnel and their families in advance of the unprecedentedly strong storm, Nelson said. "Tyndall is totally devastated," the lawmaker said. "The older buildings will have to be razed and rebuilt. The newer structures on the base that have survived the monster storm will need substantial repairs." The Florida senator said he expects all the necessary resources and funds to be available for rebuilding the entire base, because, he said, "it is a vital component of our national defense." Fears have surfaced in some news accounts that Tyndall might be closed in the wake of the storm, as was Homestead in South Florida after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Nelson said any such fears are unfounded. The base is located next to one of the world's largest testing and training grounds for our nation's military in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Nelson may be the first federal lawmaker to have surveyed the base on-the-ground since the hurricane hit there last Wednesday. Nelson credited Sen. Marco Rubio, his Republican Florida colleague in the Senate, for his bipartisan efforts to help ensure all federal resources are available to Florida to help the state recover and rebuild. Nelson is spending the day making stops at emergency operations centers in Panhandle counties, including Bay County.