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NOAA's Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center

Background

Oil and Chemical Spills

Hurricane Response

NOAA Brings Centralized Disaster Planning, Response Expertise to Gulf of Mexico Region

Ceremonies mark opening of NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center

October 15, 2012
  • U.S. Senator Richard B. Shelby (Ala.) joins NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Eric Schwaab (left) and NOAA National Ocean Service Assistant Administrator David Kennedy (right)  in cutting the ribbon formally opening the new $11 million LEED silver standard Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center.

    U.S. Senator Richard B. Shelby (Ala.) joins NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Eric Schwaab (left) and NOAA National Ocean Service Assistant Administrator David Kennedy (right) in cutting the ribbon formally opening the new Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center.

  • Sen. Shelby with NOAA members

    Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.) discusses NOAA response and restoration activities with Debbie Payton, Emergency Response Division (ERD) chief with NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration. DRC director Charlie Henry and Glen Watabayashi, ERD scientist, look on.

  • Hawker Beechcraft King Air

    NOAA's newest aircraft, a Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350CER, flew over the Center as the ceremony began.

  • NOAA leaders joined members of Congress, as well as federal, state, and local emergency responders at the grand opening of the Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center in Mobile, Ala.

    NOAA leaders joined members of Congress, as well as federal, state, and local emergency responders at the grand opening of the new Center.

  • Marian Hanisko (Coastal Services Center) demonstrates a Sea Level Rise viewer for Senator Richard Shelby as Ann Weaver and Julien Lartigue (CSC) look on.

    Marian Hanisko (Coastal Services Center) demonstrates NOAA's Sea Level Rise viewer for Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.) as Ann Weaver and Julien Lartigue (CSC) look on.

Making Waves

Audio Podcast: NOAA's new Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center (DRC) promises to change the way people prepare for and respond to the many hard-hitting storms, spills, and other events that too often strike this fragile region. In this 2011 podcast, we talk with DRC director Charlie Henry.

Listen to our latest podcast

NOAA leaders joined members of Congress, as well as federal, state, and local emergency responders on Oct. 15 at the grand opening of the Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center in Mobile, Ala.

The new 15,200-square foot facility will serve as a central coordination point for federal, state and local emergency managers, and partners who rely on NOAA’s scientific support to make decisions to protect and restore the Gulf Coast’s communities, economies, and valuable natural resources.

Over the past decade, the Gulf region has faced both natural and human-caused disasters, including hurricanes, oil spills, tornadoes, droughts, harmful algal blooms, and wildfire. While many of these severe events cannot be prevented, NOAA can reduce their effects by helping to prepare federal, state, and local decision makers for a variety of hazards and threats.

The center allows NOAA to consolidate several programs in the Gulf region, streamlining response to emergencies. It will house navigation response crafts and their teams, as well as experts in oil and chemical spill response, incident meteorology, damage assessment, habitat conservation and restoration planning, marine debris, nautical charting, and navigation safety.

“The ultimate goal is to be a centralized hub in the Gulf of Mexico region and make our responses to emergencies more efficient,” said Charlie Henry, center director. “The data NOAA will provide from this center will inform daily weather reports, help to ensure national security, help us determine if seafood is safe, and guide cargo ships loaded with goods we all buy at the store. Bringing these closely linked talents and resources under one roof will help streamline delivery of NOAA services for regional emergency preparedness and response.”

Centrally located in the Gulf region, the center is designed to withstand severe weather events such as hurricanes and tornadoes; the facility was built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and includes an interior F5 tornado shelter. The building was designed using sustainable principles and is built to the Silver Certification standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the U.S. Green Building Council.

In addition to office space, the facility includes a training room, conference rooms, and a large multifunction space that can be used for emergency response operations and drills.

Operations at the center are ramping up; NOAA employees are already conducting shoreline assessments, and have held oil spill response and storm surge workshop sessions for federal and state emergency managers. Over time, NOAA will increase its response training and workshops. Today’s opening event included a capabilities demonstration of NOAA products, services, and expertise that are available to the Gulf of Mexico emergency response community for disaster preparation, response, and recovery.

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