Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hurricane Grant Helps St. Marys $230,000 to Storm-Proof New Police Headquarters

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hurricane Grant Helps St. Marys $230,000 to Storm-Proof New Police Headquarters

Article excerpt

ST. MARYS -- Local officials are taking advantage of a federal grant to hurricane-proof their emergency operations center.

St. Marys Police Department is hoping the $230,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will prevent flooding and major damage to its main building in the event hurricane-force winds strike. The department applied for the grant last year after Hurricane Floyd.

The grant will upgrade the new police headquarters building on Point Peter Road. Once used by Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, the 32,000-square-foot building was purchased by St. Marys in 1999. Renovations should be complete by January.

Police Chief Ed Wassman said renovations will cost $193,000. Building a new structure would cost more than $3.67 million, officials said.

The city will fund the grant's required 25 percent match through a local sales tax.

The plan calls for upgrading the building's roof, windows and doors, and constructing a self-supporting antenna tower and a temporary emergency shelter to house up to 100 emergency personnel and local officials.

"I feel a lot better about the fact that we will have a shelter of last resort for emergency personnel and people to use," said Jay Kinsley, emergency management director for Camden County. "Our current plan calls for emergency workers to get under bridges and overpasses to ride out the storm if they can't find shelter."

The Camden County Jail in Woodbine can be used as an emergency center, but it will hold only about 40 additional people.

During Hurricane Floyd, there was a countywide order to evacuate. Emergency personnel and other officials who stayed behind would have been in danger if the hurricane had hit closer to home, Wassman said.

"It just wasn't safe," Wassman said. "We housed the people who needed to stay behind as well as we could. …

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