HUDSON — Federal officials have given final approval for a 36,000-square-foot hurricane shelter to be built in Hudson. County officials say construction could begin soon.
"We were just waiting on federal approval," said Dan Johnson, assistant county administrator for public services. County staffers are working to organize a groundbreaking ceremony, which will probably be in early April. Johnson said all except a "minor permitting issue" had been resolved, and that could be taken care of by the end of this week.
When built, the shelter will house up to 1,000 people. It also will be home to a branch of the Pasco Health Department and Premier Community Healthcare Group, a nonprofit, federally funded primary care clinic that serves the under- and uninsured, as well as those with Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance.
State Sen. Mike Fasano, who secured state and federal funding for the multimillion-dollar shelter, announced the approval Thursday morning.
"During the uncertain hurricane seasons Florida experiences it will be a comfort to have a shelter ready to provide a safe and secure place of refuge for residents of our local communities," Fasano said in a news release. "The added benefit will be a health care clinic that will address many important public health concerns that the explosive population growth in Pasco County has brought to light in recent years."
County officials cheered the news.
"It's a win-win (for the county and the clinics)," said Jim Martin, the county's emergency management director. He said that area has no shelter, with most residents having to evacuate to River Ridge High School.