Generous donation paves way for new EOC

September 23, 2011 at 9:40 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

St. Charles Parish will go out for bids on a new emergency operations center this fall after Dow Chemical donated $870,000 towards construction of the building.

The new EOC will be 13,000 square feet and will offer five times more floor space than the current EOC, which is located in the basement of the St. Charles Parish Courthouse. When completed, the new building will have a dedicated communications room, a fully functioning operations room, sleeping quarters for both male and female EOC personnel and a self-sustaining food preparation facility.

An audio-visual room will allow real-time assessment of imagery and maps while affording a secure area to host briefings. The building will also be built to withstand both winds in excess of 200 mph and a man-made explosion caused by a bomb.

The new facility will be constructed across the street from the courthouse.

For years, parish officials have discussed the need for a much larger EOC. The current operations center has been utilized for more than 30 years and faces severe space limitations. Since 2006, the EOC has been activated 18 times for industry emergencies, 19 times for severe weather, and has been called to deal with 538 unusual events.

The parish has received  $2.8 million in FEMA Hazard Mitigation grant funding and state capital outlay and set aside $1.3 million from the general fund for the building's construction. But because cost estimates put the total at $5.1 million, the parish faced a deficit of $870,970.

Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said he planned on visiting local industry to see if they could help with the building’s cost and went to Dow first.

“With 2011 marking Dow Chemical’s 10th anniversary within St. Charles Parish, we are pleased at the opportunity to work in unison towards the safety of our community,” Dow Site Leader Steve Milligan said. “This $870,000 is the largest donation in the entirety of those 10 years, and we find it fitting to build upon our history together with a new Emergency Operations Center.”

Parish President V.J. St. Pierre added that the project would be mutually beneficial to parish emergency personnel, residents and the business and industrial community inside the parish.

“Our response to emergencies depends so much on the ability for everyone to work together with all hands on deck,” he said. “This building provides the perfect surroundings to ensure that happens each and every time.”

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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Sleet, light snow forecast tomorrow (Dec. 8)
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