It’s been two years in the making, and Durant/Bryan County Emergency Management will be waiting approximately another year to enter its new facility, but plans are underway.
Emergency Management Director James Dalton said they received a $1 million grant two years ago to build the facility and have since been going through the environmental studies and paperwork to secure the land needed.
The new facility will be located near the Durant Regional Airport-Eaker Field. Dalton said this site is ideal for several reasons.
He said being next to the airport will allow for easier transportation of goods and guests in times of need. For example, if the governor needed to visit, they would be located near the arrival point.
The facility also will act as a backup dispatch center. Dalton said the location is ideal for this purpose as well. That’s because it divides the two centers on opposite ends of town so, if a disaster affects one, it is not likely to affect the other.
Dalton said it is also good to be close to the expanding casino and the numerous people who would be affected if a natural disaster did strike.
The new facility will be approximately 10,000 square feet and house offices, locker areas, shower and kitchen areas, a conference center and warehousing for equipment and supplies.
The facility will be used in times of emergency as a meeting point for elected officials, utility company representatives and emergency service personnel to gather and develop plans of action for a given situation.
“We coordinate out of here [for] any weather event, any natural disaster of any kind. We bring in the mayor, commissioners, National Guard, National Weather Service, Oklahoma Emergency Management,” said Dalton.
The current facility is located on the south end of a fire station and contains three offices equaling 700 square feet.
Dalton said this was always meant to be a temporary facility. Emergency Management has been there for four years.
Dalton explained the process of designing the building to accommodate needs and withstand any disaster that might strike.
He said he predicts work to begin on the building in the fall and be finished in summer 2015. The facility will serve not only Durant and Bryan County, but also will be a regional facility to aid with disasters in nearby communities.