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Bibb emergency management details $250K bunker upgrades

Director Spencer Hawkins says 95 percent of the funds they spent came from grants.

MACON, Ga. — Bibb County Emergency Management has spent a quarter of a million dollars over the past few years on the place they call "the Bunker."

It's under city hall and it's where county leaders and EMS officials get together to coordinate during an emergency.

EMA Director Spencer Hawkins says it’s all important because seconds matter.

“This building was built in 1964 as a nuclear fallout shelter,” he said referring to the bunker.

It's still used for emergency situations.

Hawkins says the room is the nerve center when things get rough.

“This whole room is now a teleconference system,” he said.

They mounted cameras on the walls and a little orb picks up all the sound, so even though dozens have their assigned seats with new laptops in this space, an infinite number of other people can log in.

“This is our touchscreen switcher, and literally, it's pointing and clicking on what you want to do with all the screen here,” he said while manipulating a box that controls all of the monitors.

Those big screens dominate the room, giving all the key players access to plenty of platforms.

“When I'm talking to Ben live on the air with what's going on, we can see what he's saying, we can see what they're putting out and making sure we are actively describing what's going on,” Hawkins described.

Hawkins says they used mostly grant money for all of the hardware upgrades over the last five years, but they don't have to pay a dime to key in on social media.

“We're real active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so we can see what people are posting about. We can see what's going on there, so people will post an Instagram picture and then we can grab that and get people there,” he said.

Casey Walker is a logistics guy.

“When I'm in here, I'm like, 'This is from the '40s,'" he said with a chuckle.

EMA is now using the old city jail with metal bars and the toilets still intact for storage space.

They also have the room to store hundreds of weather radios that Hawkins says they will give our for free in a few weeks.

The fallout shelter has cutting-edge technology -- it can't safeguard against storms, but it can help to get you with first responders once the winds die down and get the roads cleared quickly. 

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