Planned Improvements Aim to Strengthen South Louisiana Civic Center

August 14, 2014

The Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center in southern Louisiana would be able to withstand Category 3 hurricane winds after completion of a roughly $2.2 million project the Parish Council is considering.

The Courier reports the council introduced an ordinance to upgrade center’s wind tolerance to the required 130 mph for the northern part of the parish.

The proposal includes new windows and a new roof. Work is expected to begin by the end of the year.

Money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will pay for 75 percent of the project, with local government picking up the rest of the cost.

“We’re trying to mitigate future damage to our public buildings from the perils of a hurricane or high winds,” Parish Manager Al Levron said.

The Civic Center is one of several vulnerable public buildings identified through the parish’s hazard mitigation plan.

“The only way you can be awarded this hazard mitigation grant is you have to have identified these projects before a storm hits. So we have to have what is called a hazard mitigation plan in effect that identifies our risk,” Levron said.

Levron said the biggest weak spot on the Civic Center is its roof, which was built before current wind speed and stress requirements were in place.

“So the idea is to install a new roof over the existing roof, which would meet the current building codes and wind load requirements for that building,” Levron said.

Parish Recovery Planner Jennifer Gerbasi said the roof addition is necessary, although she is unsure as to the engineering specifications of the project.

“That strengthens it rather than taking off the old roof and installing a new one. It is a full new roof, and the roof itself will be all up to wind speed and all load-bearing needs,” Gerbasi said.

The original plan called for a protective film to be placed on the surface of the windows to strengthen their structural integrity. But the stress rating of the film wasn’t satisfactory for the Terrebonne Parish administrators.

The Civic Center is part of a larger, roughly $5 million push to protect several public buildings, including the Houma Police Station, Government Tower, Generating Station, Fire Station and Public Safety Building, Gerbasi said.

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