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Victoria County receives funding for safe shelter

By Melissa Crowe
Jan. 25, 2012 at 5:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 25, 2012 at 7:26 p.m.


Victoria County is gearing up for storm season.

With the grand opening of the state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center on Wednesday morning, the next item for business is building an area safe shelter.

The county received a $1.8-million FEMA grant Wednesday morning during the EOC's dedication ceremony for the construction of a community storm shelter in Bloomington through the Texas Safe Shelter Initiative.

Victoria's Emergency Management Coordinator Jeb Lacey said Bloomington Independent School District started the application process last year after the county agreed to be a financial agent for the grant.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management plans to open 50 similar emergency shelters across the state, said Chief W. Nim Kidd, who directs emergency management at the state level.

"Victoria County is prone to disasters, and Texas leads the nation for major disaster declarations," Kidd said. The EOC and storm shelter "will save lives and reduce property damage in the future."

The shelter is expected to be between 15,000 and 20,000 square feet and will be able to withstand winds up to 200 mph.

When it is not a shelter of last refuge, it will serve as a school gymnasium, Lacey said.

Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi recognized the "tremendous amount of support" the county receives through the state emergency management office.

The county's $2-million Emergency Operations Center in Victoria was largely funded through two grants: a $1-million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a $455,000 grant from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program.

The new 14,500-square-foot facility, located at 205 N. Bridge St., replaces the 1,000-square-foot emergency operation center at 700 Main Center.

Pozzi said the city and county "did an outstanding job" in the old facility, but said the county has "come a long way" in the way it responds to emergencies.

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