CHIPLEY, Fla. (WMBB)–Many counties across the Panhandle learned they can never be too prepared for a storm. Officials in Washington County are taking disaster response very seriously as they look to build a new regional disaster center.
Officials are proposing a facility that would serve the entire Panhandle and surrounding states.
“The end result would be a storm shelter that will withstand a category 5 storm that will safely keep people and take care of people in need that don’t have homes or places to go,” said Jeff Massey, Washington County Administrator.
Massey says the County has gotten letters of support from surrounding counties.
“Gulf, Liberty, Holmes, Walton, Santa Rosa, Escambia, Okaloosa. All of these counties realize the same thing we do. They have a lot of similar problems so it’s not just a local Washington County problem. It’s a state of Florida problem, a Panhandle problem,” Massey said.
At this time, the project is in the beginning stages and still needs approval on a state and federal level.
The County says the facility will not be used exclusively for storm related projects.
“It will also serve as a commerce building so at times that we’re not activating a storm shelter, we will have regional events, meetings, and things like that at that facility,” Massey said.
The County hopes to make progress on the project soon. Officials will be heading to Washington D.C. next week to propose their idea.
“We’re gonna sit in front of some of the legislators in Washington D.C. and let them know what our thoughts are on this project to begin that exact process,” Massey said.
If all goes according to plan, the proposed center would accommodate 3,000 people.