Iberia Parish Communications Center: Maximizing Mitigation through Collaboration


The Iberia Parish Emergency Operations Center, operated from the 1930’s era Iberia Parish Courthouse.  The parish had outgrown the courthouse building and wanted to make improvements. 

Some of the issues with the building included the courthouse location near the rail line, which increased the risk of damage and necessitated evacuations during derailment and hazardous material events. The building was also at risk of damage from high wind events and hurricanes. 

The courthouse also experienced flooding which caused damages to vital courthouse records and posed risks to courthouse employees. For these reasons, the parish began planning for the building of a new Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that mitigated these identified risks of high winds, flooding, derailments, and hazardous materials spill events. 


During the planning phase, Iberia Parish contacted local government EOCs in the area. The Iberia Parish EOC Director and other local officials toured 15 EOCs. They discussed best practices, features, and lessons learned about building design, as well as each location’s functions and capability.

After approximately four years of planning, design and approval of FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding, construction of the Iberia Parish Communications Center Saferoom, EOC, and 911 Call Center started in June 2019.

Iberia Parish worked with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to apply for the hazard mitigation grant for a dual use saferoom. The project was funded through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, after Hurricane Gustav, which occurred in September 2008. Additional grant funding from other sources included the State Homeland Security Program grant, which funded the call center, monitors and furniture for the meeting and reception rooms at the facility.

The collaboration and time invested in learning what worked and did not with other facilities was critical. Iberia Parish incorporated features and lessons learned from other facilities into their building’s designs, to include future proof data and cable outlets to allow for increased technological capacity, large overhangs at entrances to the building, increasing the size of the overall building design and adding the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Additional features include drains to minimize water intrusion from wind-driven rain around doors and to move ponding water away from the entrance to the building. The Parish also increased the number of electrical outlets, and the sizing of air conditioning units were increased as well.  

The EOC includes a call center and equipment, which can be set up in the lobby during emergency events.

The conference room is equipped with moveable walls which allows rooms to be scaled smaller or larger, for trainings and meetings as needed.

The facility is also a saferoom for essential personnel. It is equipped to house personnel and equipment during storms as well as other emergency events. The building is well fortified with features including a 6” thick concrete roof, 18” thick concrete interior walls, permanent and backup generator, and automatic transfer switches. The building has hurricane proof windows able to sustain wind speeds up to 175 miles per hour. This allows critical lifesaving operations to continue and faster deployment of people immediately following an event. 

The Iberia Parish Communications Center: Saferoom, EOC, and 911 call center was built in compliance with, P-361 - Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms. Through collaboration, Iberia Parish learned that a nearby parish, had the 911 EOC Operations center capacity but lacked the backup water storage capability. After a storm destroyed their water lines, the facility was without water. The Iberia Parish facility includes 900 gallons of water storage available.

Key Takeaways

The building opened in July 2020 and was tested by Hurricane Laura one month later. There were no issues to report following that disaster.

When the area experienced tornadoes during Hurricane Ida in December of 2021, Governor John Bel Edwards and his staff used the facility during the response phase. 

Iberia Parish EOC staff would share with others in emergency management the following: collaborate with neighboring communities to discuss lessons learned and best practices, have detailed plans, and utilize a dedicated project manager. The project manager kept contractors accountable, on time and ensured that work was completed to the correct specifications. Iberia Parish was proud that only one change order was needed during the project's construction.


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