Hancock Co. EOC building to open during 2014 hurricane season

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Hancock County Emergency Operation Center has been without a permanent place to call home since Hurricane Katrina nearly nine years ago. In fact, the EOC staff has been uprooted and bounced around to six different temporary locations since the storm.

Although the new EOC building now under construction on Highway 603 in Kiln won't be finished before the 2014 hurricane season begins on Sunday, it will be ready to open before the season ends.

The building that will serve the people of Hancock County during times of emergency is nearly 90 percent complete and headed into the home stretch.

"We're hoping late July, early August he'll have things wrapped up and we'll have a usable building," said County Engineer Jeff Clemens.

"We're certainly excited," said EOC Director Brian Adam.

Adam said the building will be ready just in time for the Gulf Coast's most critical part of hurricane season. Typically the Gulf doesn't see tropical activity until August and September. County leaders say the $3 million building was built to FEMA 361 standards, which means it can withstand 200 mph winds.

"Just about anything Mother Nature can throw at it, it should be able to withstand," said Clemens.

"Anytime you have a building that you see as sturdy as this you're going to feel comfortable," said Adam.

The building will come with some impressive features.

"One of the major ones is the large operations room. What we call the war room, it's quite large. It's going to have big TV screen monitors on each wall. It's going to have an overhead projector that comes out from the ceiling that will shoot up to the front. We'll have desks for all of the ESF functions and MEMA," explained Adam.

It also features an industrial kitchen, office space and restroom facilities with showers. On the outside of the building, something for those who come in to help start a recovery process after a storm.

"We found after Katrina there's a lot of people that come in and help FEMA and different people that come in with RVs. We have four trailer hook-ups with water sewer and electric," Adam said.

He also said the new building makes him a believer in the old saying 'good things come to those who wait.

Central dispatch for all law enforcement agencies in Hancock County will also be located inside the new building.

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