FEMA grants $3.6M to EBR for hurricane preparedness

Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 4:43 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - FEMA will be granting Louisiana $3.6 million for hurricane preparedness in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Part of that money will go towards the construction of a new hurricane community safe room and training shelter for first responders.

In a situation like a hurricane, it’s crucial that first responders have the resources, such as shelter, they need to do their jobs. And after hurricanes like Katrina, Rita, and Gustav, you could say that lessons have been learned.

“You never really have a large forum to put people here in East Baton Rouge Parish,” said Clay Rives, director of the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (MOHSEP). “We’ve used the River Center, we’ve used FG Clark, we’ve used Celtic Studios before. This just gives us another location to utilize if needed.”

When another hurricane hits Louisiana, officials say they want to be better prepared to handle the situation with a new shelter for first responders.

“It’s a great opportunity for the parish. It’s a great opportunity to have another location that we can utilize during disasters,” Rives explained.

But it’s not just for Baton Rouge. Sometimes, the American Red Cross and National Guard need places to stay but can’t be put in hotels that are already booked by people fleeing the coastline.

“So, this will just allow us another opportunity to house people in East Baton Rouge Parish that need housing to either help East Baton Rouge Parish residents or assist other parishes. So, it will help our parish, as well as the rest of the state,” Rives continued.

Baton Rouge previously used parts of Southern University as a meeting location but space was limited. And now, with a new shelter, they will also be able to use it as a sort of training facility on clear days.

“During grey sky days, we’ll be able to work out of there but on blue sky days, it’ll be a training center where we can have classes, large rooms set up to where we can train hundreds of individuals,” added Rives.

Once this project is complete, three smaller safe rooms will also pop up around the parish.

“We just need to be prepared for this season. We saw last season was the most active season, 2020, it’s already been a very active season. Hopefully, we get this resource soon, so as we continue to see these hurricanes that have affected us, we’ll be prepared,” said Rives.

According to the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, construction of the facility should begin within the next six months and be finished within the next year and a half.

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