Long Beach Firehouse To Be Rebuilt With FEMA Funds - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Long Beach Firehouse To Be Rebuilt With FEMA Funds

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the City of Long Beach are beneficiaries of a new way of doing business by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA is coordinating funding from two of its recovery programs to build a 2,700 square foot firehouse that will also serve as a shelter for emergency personnel. The new facility will replace Fire Station Number 2 that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina's average 125 mph winds and 25-foot storm surge.

"This project is the first Partnered Mitigation Project that brings together the funding from our Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and Public Assistance programs at the same time to repair or replace public facilities and make them stronger," said Nick Russo, federal coordinating officer for the Mississippi disaster recovery.

The project funds are administered by MEMA. Nearly $128,000 in public assistance funds will be used to replace the former fire station.

A hazard mitigation grant totaling about $377,000 will allow the firehouse to be "hardened" by using reinforced concrete in the construction of the facility enabling it to withstand 200 mph winds.

"During any disaster, we know that local first responders have to be able to adequately perform their duties," said MEMA Interim Director Mike Womack. "This will not only be a firehouse that can withstand high winds and storm surge, but a safe haven for those individuals who are so crucial immediately after a disaster strikes."

The fire station will double as a shelter for 52 emergency personnel including firefighters, police, emergency medical technicians and heavy equipment operators.

"This is a critical facility for our first responders," said Long Beach Mayor Billy Skellie. "Without it we would have to locate emergency personnel farther inland, adversely impacting the safety of our residents."

The new firehouse is just four blocks from the Gulf of Mexico but it will sit on land above the Hurricane Katrina storm surge.

"Its location will allow us to provide a quick response time and needed fire suppression support to the local community," added George Bass, Long Beach fire chief.

The facility will be outfitted with emergency generators and a 14-day fuel supply to support continuous operations.

FEMA's Public Assistance program normally pays to repair damaged structures to their preexisting condition or rebuild to an applicable code. Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds, on the other hand, typically fund activities that seek to reduce the risk and vulnerability of structures from hurricanes and other dangers.

The Partnered Mitigation Project will allow for these two programs to work in concert with each other so applicants can maximize their resources and complete comprehensive mitigation projects.

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