(L - R) Mobile Co. EMA Plans/Operations Chief John Kilcullen with WFO Mobile SOO Jeffrey Medlin, Senior Forecaster John Purdy, WCM Jeff Garmon and Senior Forecaster Cody Lindsey (Photo: WFO Mobile)
(Oct. 18, 2012) -- Staff from the National Weather Service Mobile, Ala. forecast office participated in the dedication of NOAA's Gulf of Mexico Disaster Response Center in Mobile, Oct. 15. The team provided personal briefings to U.S. Senator Richard Shelby and the attendees. Staffers discussed the role local NWS forecast offices and highlighted their decision support capabilities to the public, first responders and partner agencies before, during, and after weather events.
They also focused on the direct support the office provides the new disaster response center and how each NWS office across the Gulf of Mexico plays an important role in the mitigation of all-hazards through their direct support in providing critical weather information.
In addition to the Mobile office team and Senator Shelby, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by representatives from several NOAA line offices including the National Ocean Service, Office of Response and Restoration, Coastal Survey Office, Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services and the Coastal Services Center, as well as local officials, emergency managers, U.S. Coast Guard officers and maritime industry representatives.
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 we 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 our services for regional emergency preparedness and response."
NOAA Disaster Response Center dedication (Photo: WFO Mobile)