Port Tampa Bay’s Security and Operations teams has a heavy weather protection building to protect essential assets and ensure continued port operations in the event of high magnitude natural disasters.
The Port’s command vehicle, trucks, and a survey boat to ensure a speedy response in the event of heavy weather conditions, including hurricanes will be stored in the new facility. The project was funded through a combination of Port Capital Improvement Funds, FEMA Port Security Grant Funds and FDOT Security Grant Funds. The facility is in the final stages of completion, and when complete, will be provided to the Port for use during future storm seasons.
“As Florida’s most diverse port, it’s essential we ensure our region’s mission critical operations even in times of disaster. By protecting these assets, we help our community have peace of mind that our essential services, like fuel, will remain available in times of need. With this added security, we improve our capacity for a prompt response and recovery following a devastating storm or hurricane,” explained Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay President and CEO.
The new 12,000 square foot building was constructed using innovative techniques to withstand high-level storms, including 189 MPH wind loads, which would constitute a category five hurricane. The hardened facility was built above a 500-year storm elevation, meaning it is ready to withstand storms with the same potential for destruction as Southwest Florida’s Hurricane Ian and Houston’s Hurricane Harvey.
The facility ensures protection for critically valuable equipment in times of disaster, including the survey boat that uses high-end technology to aid in the Port’s storm response. Equipped with 3D scanner technology, the boat can identify blockages in navigation.
The new heavy-weather building is another example of the port’s commitment to safety and resiliency. Each year Port Tampa Bay executes a Hurricane Preparedness Tabletop Exercise, in partnership with the National Weather Service. The exercise brings together and educates several vital agencies, including the United States Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and City and County Offices of Emergency Management, to name a few.