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Chennault building hurricane-proof Emergency Operations Center

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Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 5:28 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Chennault International Airport is building a hurricane-proof Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to ride out hurricanes and facilitate post-disaster response.

“Chennault prides itself on the fact that we were a staging area for quite frankly thousands of people. As we saw during Hurricane Laura, we had people that were staging out of here and operating out of here across 9 different agencies. That was in direct support of recovery operations during our last hurricanes,” executive director Kevin Melton said.

Melton explains Chennault was a huge hub of regional post-hurricane activity in 2020. Now the airport is preparing for the future with a new building in the works that will be strong enough to withstand the next storm.

“We must make sure that we have a safe place for our personnel to stay,” Melton said. “I can’t be ready to recover and support the community without that capability. So, we made this effort a priority.”

That safe place being built at Chennault is the EOC.

“It’s a hardened facility,” Melton said. “It allows my staff and other staff across the airport to safely ride out the storm and be ready to sustain those recovery operations.”

This building makes it easier for the airport crew to immediately clear and reopen the runway for emergency and relief flights coming in to help after a disaster.

“We ride out the storm because we’re not going to leave. We’re here in place so that we can recover the airport and we can be positioned, ready to go as soon as the storms pass so that we are ready to recover the airport and take care of other folks,” Melton said.

Melton says construction is already about halfway done and expects the building to be inhabitable by the end of this July.

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