4-Hers design safe room for St. John Parish

Bruce Schultz, Heil, Shandy, Hurlbert, Deborah L.  |  5/19/2015 7:28:25 PM

St. John the Baptist Parish 4-H Club members made a presentation to parish government officials on May 14 for a building for the Office of Emergency Preparedness to house emergency workers during a disaster. Standing from left to right are Biarnetta Bell, parish 4-H program assistant; Shandy Heil, LSU AgCenter extension associate; Natalie Robottom, parish president; 4-H’ers Donald Fluker, William Ledet, Kyle Henderson and Jeremiah Smith; 4-H volunteer Patti Rodrigue; 4-H’er Korey Lee; Pat Skinner, LSU AgCenter disaster recovery and mitigation specialist; and Mike Coburn, parish chief administrative officer. Seated are, from left, 4-H’ers Emily Bartholomew, DaQuan Moore, Hannah Duhe and Coy Vodol. 4-H’ers not present who also participated in the project are Jeyha Allen, DeLloyd Gray and Dylan Rodi. (Photo by Bruce Schultz, LSU AgCenter)

News Release Distributed 05/19/15

LAPLACE, La. – A dozen St. John the Baptist Parish 4-H Club members presented their plans to parish officials on May 14 for a safe room for emergency workers responding to a disaster.

“A safe room will provide protection during an emergency,” 4-H’er Hannah Duhe told parish officials.

4-H’er Corey Lee said the plans for the 4,000-square-foot building include a sloped roof for improved drainage, impact-resistant windows and reinforced doors.

4-H’er William Ledet explained the use of insulated concrete forms that would provide good insulation and a stronger structure.

The shell of the building would cost $204,732, Ledet said. The estimate did not include pilings for the foundation, interior walls or electrical and mechanical services.

4-H’er Donald Fluker presented the group’s concepts for furnishing the safe room with a kitchen and sleeping quarters so it can house first responders during the early recovery period.

LSU AgCenter extension associate Deborah Hurlbert said the project was a good challenge for the 4-H’ers. “They have exceeded what they felt they could do,” she said. “I can’t say how proud I am of them.”

The 4-H’ers learned about sea level rise, and they conducted a vulnerability assessment of parish Office of Emergency Preparedness facilities, she said.

The 4-H’ers, all ninth-graders, met with engineers overseeing construction of the East St. John High School, repairing the school buildings that were flooded by Hurricane Isaac in 2012. “They brought stacks of blueprints and volumes of details,” Hurlbert said.

LSU AgCenter extension associate Shandy Heil said the 4-H’ers benefitted from the project in several ways. “They’re going to be better prepared for the future.”

4-H’er Jeremiah Smith said he was nervous about getting up in front of a group of adults and making a presentation. “I never thought we could do it.”

St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom told the 4-H’ers she was impressed with their presentation. “I’m actually amazed at what you’ve done,” she said. “I had no idea the presentation would be this in-depth.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will only fund construction of a safe room building shell with a generator, Robottom said. The 4-H’ers’ recommendations for interior improvements, such as sleeping quarters and a kitchen, will be used in the design.

“If we’re going to utilize it, it needs to accommodate for 24-hour work so we don’t have to sleep in our cars,” she said.

That’s what happened with Hurricane Isaac when emergency workers were crammed into the parish Office of Emergency Preparedness situation room.

Robottom praised the 4-H’ers for learning about disaster planning and building structures to withstand storms. “You are leaps and bounds above a lot of adults,” she said. “I think you have a great start.”

Robottom said the final cost will exceed $1 million for the safe room, which is currently being designed as part of a parish government building complex.

“I’m extremely excited by the fact that these kids have embraced the process and became aware of the needs,” she said.

Volunteer 4-H leader Patti Rodrigue said the group of 12 4-H’ers met twice a month since October. “They put more into it and they gained a lot more knowledge, and not one of them quit or gave up.”

“They really took the time and dedication,” said Mike Coburn, St. John the Baptist Parish chief administrative officer.

4-H’ers who worked on the project were Jeyha Allen, Emily Bartholomew, Hannah Duhe, Donald Fluker, DeLloyd Gray, Kyle Henderson, William Ledet, Korey Lee, DaQuan Moore, Dylan Rodi, Jeremiah Smith and Coy Vodol.

Bruce Schultz
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