BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – FEMA is providing a $3.6 million grant to East Baton Rouge Parish to build a safe room and first responder training facility.
When disaster strikes, Baton Rouge will soon have a new facility that can withstand hurricane-force winds and house emergency response teams. When groups like the National Guard come to town ahead of a storm they will have a central location to meet and wait for directions of where they need to go to help.
“Just geographically where we are located makes a lot of sense,” said Clay Rives, Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. “This particular facility will be able to sustain any types of winds up to category five. There are certain things the building has structurally sound so this allows us to have a really safe place out of harm’s way for the most part where we have our first responders who can deploy from that area.”
East Baton Rouge Parish already serves as a central place for state response for southern and eastern Louisiana. Some of the city-parish facilities have been utilized as meeting locations but are often too small and not fully equipped. This new facility will be a larger space for first responders to train on clear days as well.
“Currently the airport helps us with housing first responders. We use airplane hangers at times and this will be dedicated just for that purpose,” Rives said.
The facility will be built next to the Mayor’s Office for Homeland Security and construction is aimed to begin in the next six months. The next phase of the emergency preparedness project will be to place three smaller safe rooms around the parish.
“Right now we work with BREC during disasters already and we use a lot of their facilities so this will just increase our capacity and our ability to respond here in East Baton Rouge Parish,” Rives said.
He also said this project has been in the works for years and will only make emergency response better and more streamlined.