Ford Park site of emergency preparations for Hurricane Gustav

Marilyn Tennissen Sep. 2, 2008, 8:13am

Hundreds of ambulances and buses were staged at Ford Park, ready to respond to areas hit by Hurricane Gustav.

The Jefferson County entertainment complex, Ford Park, was not the place for a concert over Labor Day weekend.

Instead of offering music, the facility became a staging area for hundreds of ambulances and buses that were contracted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to respond to any area hit by Hurricane Gustav.

Vehicles from across Texas and across the country made their way to Beaumont. Each ambulance that entered was checked in by emergency coordinators, who had a regional command center established at the entrance.

Inside Ford Arena hundreds of EMTs watched storm reports and worked out deployment plans on computers on cell phones. Personnel could also have a hot meal, or sleep in a special section of the arena that was kept dark and lined with cots.

Gustav was not the first time the facility has been utilized by emergency management. In August 2005, Ford Park became the first major shelter for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. A month later as the last of the Louisiana residents were sent to more permanent housing locations, Southeast Texas officials transformed the facility into a staging ground for all the regional emergency responders.

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