Coliseum stands ready to shelter storm victims

By John Underwood / john@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 10/12/18

ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — The Baldwin County Coliseum stands ready for use by victims of Hurricane Michael, which devastated the Florida Panhandle earlier this week.

In an emergency meeting on …

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Coliseum stands ready to shelter storm victims

Posted

ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — The Baldwin County Coliseum stands ready for use by victims of Hurricane Michael, which devastated the Florida Panhandle earlier this week.

In an emergency meeting on Tuesday, the Baldwin County Commission voted to open the facility, located on Fairground Road in Robertsdale, as a shelter for storm victims.

“We felt that since the hotels were getting filled to capacity, we should make the facility available to anyone who needs it,” said Baldwin County’s acting EMA Director Jessie Peacock.

As of Friday morning, only six evacuees had used the shelter since it opened Tuesday afternoon, Peacock said.

On Thursday, Baldwin County EMA received a call from the Alabama Department of Public Health requesting the use of the shelter to house nursing home residents from Okaloosa County.

The shelter was then equipped to provide their medical needs and food was prepared for the potential of receiving up to 120 evacuees at the shelter, Peacock said.

As it turns out, the evacuees did not show up and on Friday morning, the request was cancelled.

“It happens,” Peacock said. “Plans change, there are issues with communication, things like that. But we will remain ready to receive victims if we are needed.”

The 38,000 square-foot facility, located on Fairground Road, three miles east of Alabama 59 in Robertsdale, was completed in 2008 using a community facilities loan from USDA Rural Development, applied for by FEMA, the Baldwin County Commission and the Cattle and Fair Association.

The shelter was built to withstand 200-mile-per-hour winds and house up to 3,900 people, nearly 2,000 on a long-term basis. The shelter includes four full restrooms (two men’s and two women’s) complete with shower facilities. The fairgrounds also houses a 78,000 square-foot, 2,200-seat arena, which can also be used and facilities to shelter pets if needed.

While Peacock said he is not yet ruling out the possibility of the facility being needed, it is likely that the Baldwin County Commission will re-assess the need for the facility at its next meeting, which is set for Tuesday, Oct. 16.