OLD RIVER-WINFREE – An emergency facility currently under construction at 4828 FM 565 North is expected to provide relief to compromised area residents in the event of future hurricane damage.

Old River-Winfree was arguably one of the hardest-hit areas in the aftermath of 2008’s Hurricane Ike.  In the event of future damage and related outages, this new “disaster related’ facility will provide the community with needed showers, mattresses, washer-dryers, and air conditioning, said Colleen Fontenot, Position 2 city councilwoman.

 “We all know what clean clothes and a hot shower can do for our overall well-being in a disaster-torn community,” Fontenot said. “A high powered generator will be on the ‘standby’ for these times of our lives.”

This facility is expected to be finished in early February. These showers, restrooms, emergency generators, and washers and dryers will remain on standby until an emergency.

The 1,200 square foot emergency building will be divided into men’s and women areas, with three showers and three toilet areas per area.

The facility will be handicap-accessible, with two handicap restrooms available in addition to shower modifications. 

This new building is funded by $433,638 from a government grant from the Texas Department of Rural Affairs and a CDBG Disaster Recovery Grant. 

Fontenot said getting the grants was hard work, but added Spencer Carnes at Carnes Engineering, Inc. paved the way — dealing with government agencies and their  “red tape” for three years.

ORW Mayor Joe Landry, the City Council and City Secretary Linda Murphy also are credited with being  key contributors to the grant process, Fontenot said. 

The mayor, incidentally, worked behind the scenes in 2008 to help Old River-Winfree people in need after Hurricane Ike hit, according to reports. 

As Landry toured the community, he documented the specific damage he witnessed and reported what he saw back to the state, reports show.

The mayor also teamed up with a Chambers County commissioner to fix a water main leak at one point, reports show. 

A facility such as the one currently under construction would have come in handy back in 2008, officials said. 

But it is anticipated this building will make a good staging ground for first responders in the area. 

Source:  Ben Tinsley, Baytown Sun