Long Beach spends BP grant on boats, ATVs, emergency gear
LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) – It is the latest addition to the Long Beach Fire and Police Departments' fleet. The new 24 foot boat came equipped with emergency fog lights, GPS, and radar. Its $50,000 price tag was paid for by the BP grant.
"The day we got it in, that night, we used it in the harbor for about five hours, placing absorbent boom, pom poms out to protect the inlets to the harbor," said Long Beach Emergency Management Director George Bass.
And to detect tar balls along the beach, the city received four, four-wheel drive pick-up trucks, portable light stations, along with barricades and road signs with message boards in case of road closures.
These are the smaller purchases: 20 water backpacks, six life vests, four laptops, GPS, binoculars, digital cameras and hand-held radios. Bass said these are the types of equipment and gear his cash-strapped city just can't afford to buy.
"It's equipment that we truly needed, but unfortunately, through the budget process, these things, you ask for them, the needs are not as high as the other items. Being able to get this equipment now is just truly great for us," said Bass.
The city's Public Works Department also received some new items through the BP Grant, including a mini hoe and dump truck to clean out bayous. And a large trash truck to pick up debris is on order.
The vehicles, equipment, and gear can be used to respond to other emergencies besides oil spills. For instance, the new boat allows emergency crews to conduct rescue operations in foggy and rainy conditions. And the hand-held radios allow local officials to communicate with state agencies during disasters.
"The oil spill's going to be with us for a number of years. We're going to be dealing with this," said Bass. "But the blessing is we got equipment to be able to respond to it now, and not just right now, but in the years to come."
The Long Beach Police Department also purchased two pick-up trucks, two ATVs and uniforms for the Beach Patrol. Among the items the Harbor Master received were an ATV and a 16 foot boat. The grant also paid for overtime for those employees involved in the oil spill response. All the OT and equipment totaled $700,000.
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