Tuesday, February 5, 2019
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH – Parish President Natalie Robottom, her Administrative staff and Council Members Marvin Perrilloux and Larry Sorapuru, and Chief Steve Guidry of the Sheriff’s Office were joined by Mike Steele, David Dancer and Tiffany Doucet with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), Tommy Brown and Randy Fiveash with Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects, Hunter Prejean with Onshore Construction Company, LLC as well as a host of emergency responders for a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate the start of the Safe Room project. Scott Reddoch and Randy Smith with Royal Engineers and Consultants, LLC on the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) also attended the ceremony and worked closely with staff on funding the project.
The 4,000 square foot facility at an estimated cost of $1.2 million will complement the existing Emergency Operations Center and serve as a secure location to house Parish employees, critical staff, first responders and other agencies as they work disasters and emergencies. “Hurricane Isaac exposed the critical need for a safe place to house employees and officials while working long hours and eating and sleeping in their offices, cars and wherever they could find space,” said Parish President Natalie Robottom. “Because we depend so heavily on this group of essential personnel, it is encumbent upon us to provide proper accommodations and shelter while they respond to disasters and lead the recovery process.”
Safe rooms are constructed to provide protection against wind forces and the impact of windborne debris, flooding and loss of power. The exterior of the building is funded by $1,107,000 in HMGP funds, which includes a 25% match from the parish. The match and interior of the building are funded through bond issue funds and various parish budgets including 911 communications and the Office of Fire Services. The grant application process included extensive paperwork submittals and stringent guidelines as teams from the Parish, architecture firm, GOHSEP, FEMA and Royal Engineers and Consultants, LLC worked tirelessly on the design and approval of this project for construction.
“It is critically important for our local emergency officials to have the resources they need to respond to a disaster,” said GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom. “That includes a safe, secure location for planning and rest for events that could last several days. The use of the Hazard Mitigation money answers that need. We are proud to work with President Robottom and her staff to make this facility part of the parish’s emergency complex.”
The project is under construction and is expected to be completed in 12 to14 months, weather permitting. When completed, it will house and sleep more than 100 people at a time. Onshore Construction Company, LLC was awarded the construction contract and will have a project manager on site for the entirety of the project. The project will be overseen by Randy Fiveash the project engineer with Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects. “We are proud to be a part of the design and construction of the new Safe Room,” said Tommy Brown. We are confident that the new facility will only enhance the services provided to the residents of St. John Parish.”