Moody leadership assess Grassy Pond

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Courtney Sebastianelli
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Leadership from the 23rd Wing visited the Grassy Pond recreational site in Lowndes County, Georgia, Oct. 30, 2023, to assess the damages from Hurricane Idalia and to discuss the long-term plan for restoration to the area.

The Category 2 hurricane’s 105 mile-per-hour winds damaged cabins, structures, power lines, water pipes and trees throughout the 500 acre park, most beyond the ability to repair. 

“While damages to the grounds were substantial, I have full confidence that our Flying Tiger team will facilitate all the necessary assistance needed to get the facility back open as soon as its safe,” said Col. Paul Sheets, 23rd Wing commander. “Grassy Pond has a long history as an amenity available to our Airmen to unwind and spend time with family and friends.”

Grassy Pond is located in Lake Park, Georgia, and is a recreational area affiliated with Moody since 1952 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service granted Moody AFB the right to maintain a rest camp and fishing area on the grounds.

The base and community are striving to get Grassy Pond open as fast as possible since the area services between 50,000 and 70,000 visitors each year, said Josh Davis, Grassy Pond supervisory recreation specialist. With family reunions, camping and fishing enthusiasts using the grounds year-round, restoration to the facilities and amenities is a priority for both Lowndes County and Moody. 

“We took a very deliberate approach with both safety and the clean-up process,” said Maj. John McCormick, commander of the 23rd Force Support Squadron – the organization in charge of Grassy Ponds. “It’s been a team effort to get the infrastructure back to working order. While Moody had mission priorities on base, the county provided support here at Grassy Pond until we could get our Airmen on site to also help. The inter-governmental support agreement between the Civil Engineer Squadron and the county will cover some the utility repairs, because it’s a full replacement for the power, water and the sewer lines.”

Damages were initially assessed by the recreation team, and now Airmen from organizations across the base are involved in the ongoing support and efforts for restoration of the grounds. 

“There was a substantial amount of damage to the point that it left me speechless,” Davis said, recalling his first view of Grassy Ponds after the storm. “While we’ve been working hard to clean up the area, there is still so much to be done for the grounds, cabins and the water and sewage system. Working with Moody has really been beneficial to streamlining the process.”

Part of the process is to categorize what gets repairs or replaced, and then to prioritize the repairs. This is where the partnership between Moody and Lowdnes County is beneficial, since some of the repairs to the water or sewer lines will include coordinating with off-base entities.

“Despite the setback, the team is capitalizing on the opportunity to reevaluate and improve various aspects of the facility to enhance the customer experience for our customers,” said McCormick. “The objective is not simply restoring Grassy Pond to its previous state, but to utilize this pause to implement improvements in infrastructure, operations and programming through a strategic approach. We look forward to sharing these visible results once Grassy Pond reopens in late Spring.”

Grassy Ponds is still closed to the public at this time. However, the cleanup and restoration effort is ongoing, and the goal is to have parts of the site re-open in phases in the late spring of 2024.