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Freeport officials unveil plans for storm support center

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy stands on the site

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy stands on the site where a new emergency management center will be built to provide support to local residents during potential hurricanes and disasters, on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015 in Freeport. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Freeport officials, still rebounding from 2012's superstorm Sandy, are planning to build a state-of-the-art emergency management center to provide support to local residents during potential hurricanes and disasters.

Freeport Village Mayor Robert T. Kennedy, joined by officials of the local American Red Cross and Salvation Army, made the announcement Tuesday at a news conference outside the Freeport Exempt Firemen's Association.

"The center will be used by police, firefighters and Freeport's Office of Emergency Management as a temporary storage facility and to provide clothing and supplies to those in need," he said. Food rations, generators, blankets, batteries, and water would be among items stored, he said.

The center's location -- behind the exempt building -- will be outside of the area's 100-year flood zone and would provide security to residents for years to come. "But the overall construction costs are undetermined," Kennedy said.

Village officials are considering one and possibly two 3,000-square-foot buildings, and they hope to have "shovels in the ground" by Christmas, Kennedy said.

The center would also store emergency fire department trucks, emergency diesel fire pumps, emergency fire boats, police Humvees, police marine units and rigging equipment needed to remove road debris, he said.

He also noted that this week marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the New Orleans region, and it is peak of the hurricane season that ends about Nov. 30.

Sandy landed in late October and displaced thousands of village residents, causing millions of dollars of damage and destroying 63 local businesses, Kennedy said.

In 1938, the storm known as the "Long Island Express" barreled across Long Island, killing about 700 people, destroying thousands of homes, and carrying strong winds that carved out what is now called the Shinnecock Canal, Kennedy said."The forecasters say it's a 70 percent probability of six to 10 named storms that could affect the region this year," he said.

Long Island Red Cross board member Butch Yamali said its officials are "excited" about the proposed center.

The local Salvation Army's Maj. Jose Guzman praised village officials for their "vision."

Nassau County Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) said afterward that "it is a great idea."

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