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FEMA Moving Gulf Coast Headquarters to Coliseum

by Keith Burton - GCN    1/13/06    Updated

The Federal Emergency Management Agency moved its Gulf Coast Katrina Recovery headquarters this past weekend from the Imperial Palace Casino to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum Convention Center.

Workers moved a huge number of desks, equipment and set up offices for nearly 800 FEMA employees in their planning and administration center, which was at the IP. FEMA officials say that they have a two year contract with the coliseum.

FEMA Spokesman Leonard DeCarlo says that the coliseum site will not be a public FEMA contact point, but serve only as their administration and planning center helping coordinate FEMA's Katrina recovery effort. DeCarlo said that they will be moving offices from Jackson County and Jackson to the coliseum as well. The public should continue to use the DRC's at their established locations.

DeCarlo said that FEMA plans to be on the Coast for years. In other disaster sites, FEMA workers remain on location for as much as a decade. But the coliseum site is also temporary. FEMA plans to build its own headquarters at a site just north of the railroad tracks in Biloxi near the coliseum.

Getting FEMA into the coliseum is no small task. Bill Holmes, the coliseum's executive director, said he and his staff have been working hard to get the building in a condition to use. The coliseum was flood and heavily damaged from Hurricane Katrina.  Mud and debris had to be removed and thousands of square feet of sheet rock had to be replaced as well as telephone and electrical equipment.

Holmes says the coliseum will be ready for other activities after FEMA leaves and the Coast's casinos and back up and operating.

Getting the FEMA headquarters in Biloxi is boon to the city. The large numbers of FEMA workers, which are well paid to Coast standards adds a tremendous amount of discretionary spending to Biloxi.

The workers housed at the Imperial Palace are still going to live at the casino's hotel. FEMA has a three year contract with the casino for housing employees.

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