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Daphne constructing new storm 'safe room' for first responders

(IMG: WPMI) Daphne constructing new storm 'safe room' for first responders
(IMG: WPMI) Daphne constructing new storm 'safe room' for first responders

A brand new emergency weather shelter for first responders is coming to the city of Daphne.

Officials said the "safe room" will be able to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, and keep public works employees protected until the storm passes.

For anyone who's lived through the worst storms to hit the Gulf Coast, the impacts are hard to forget.

But once the chaos settles, public works crews are among the first to assess the damage, and help the community begin rebuilding.

Jeremy Sasser, Daphne's Public Works Director, said the new shelter, to be constructed behind the public works building, will help that cause.

"The quicker you can get the assessment done, the quicker you can get the city put back together by getting roads open and getting essential services started back up," said Sasser.

The "safe room" will give Sasser's entire staff a location, able to withstand 180 mph winds, to prepare for the moment they're needed.

"You can fit about 10 people in the safe room we have now. This new safe room will hold up to 58 people," Sasser said, "This will allow us to have everyone here, and everyone ready to go as soon as we can get out on the roads."

Daphne city officials approved the nearly $900,000 project last week. 75% of the cost will be paid for with FEMA grants.

Councilman Ron Scott says they've been seeking funding for the project for years.

"When the governor is asking normal citizens to evacuate, our guys don't have that choice. They have got to be able to stand around. The city owes it to them to have a safe facility that they shelter in," said Scott.

City officials said construction will begin on the new facility within several months, and it's expected to be up and running by next storm season.