FEMA may set up at MCLB - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

FEMA may set up at MCLB

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October 26, 2006

Albany -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency is looking at Albany's Marine Base as a possible new home for their Southeastern United States operation.

Their warehouse is currently at Fort Gillem outside Atlanta, but Gillem is scheduled to be closed by the BRAC commission, and FEMA is considering moving, possibly here.  

FEMA officials from Washington, D. C. quietly came to the Albany Marine Base October 12th, and toured the facility. With Fort Gillem scheduled for closure, FEMA could stay there, but industrial developers are hungry to gobble up that base for its prime real estate.

Albany could be perfect for FEMA geographically, centrally located between the hurricane prone areas, but far enough from the ocean to be safe.  

Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board Leland Burkart said, "Realizing we are closer to the coast than Atlanta. Transportation is good. We can deal with logistics."

FEMA's warehouse operation would be enormous, requiring at least two million square feet of enclosed warehouse space, a great deal of it refrigerated.  "They do keep ice. And food that has a shelf life. MRE's, or meals ready to eat that they send to disaster areas," Burkhart said.

If Albany were chosen to be the new home for FEMA, they would not use Marine warehouses, they would build their own. So the vast undeveloped acres at MCLB Albany already owned by the federal government could be key.

Construction and jobs for the new facility could mean hundreds of millions in economic impact.  "We understand the decision will be made at the upper level, probably at the end of the year," Burkhart said.

If FEMA wants to come, the Marine Commandant would have final say if he is willing to share the base.  FEMA leaders also toured sites in Warner Robins, Perry, and Augusta, as they consider moving their Southeastern Operations.

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