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.
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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.
Visit NOAA's Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center website to learn more.
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.