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Guardian Centers opens first facility in Perry, Georgia

6:48 PM, May 14, 2013   |    comments
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PERRY, Ga. -- After nearly three decades of working with Bell South, Geoff Burkart was ready to do his own thing.

But instead of starting the typical "small" business, he decided to open something a bit different.

"The idea for Guardian Centers was spawned by [Hurricane] Katrina," he said. "How did we as a country muck up the Katrina response effort?" 

And answered with his own theory: that there was no coordination between all the entities, both government and private, coming in to help.

That's where he's found the need for his venture, an 830-acre disaster training facility in Perry, Georgia.

"There is nowhere like this where you can bring all agencies together and train in a real cityscape," he said.

The massive center is essentially its own town, with a Main Street, stores, parking garages and infrastructure.

"We've got our own power, gas and water," Burkart said.

He's designed buildings to collapse and burn, all for groups to train on.

They've even built a two-train subway system and platform to replicate a disaster on the tracks.

But since this whole idea was born out of the response to Hurricane Katrina, he also added something specifically designed to aid in the rescues first responders were faced with in New Orleans.

"It's a 5.5 million gallon basin that we can fill with well water," he said.

Inside that basin is an entire neighborhood, and no detail is spared.

There are swing sets and fences in the yards that add to the mayhem and reality of the flooding scenario.

The homes are furnished and even have attics to duplicate rooftop rescues.

They welcome all groups to use their facility. For more information on Guardian Centers, click here.

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