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County preparing for disaster with new emergency operation center

By DAVID TEWES
Oct. 4, 2010 at 5:04 a.m.


Construction of the new emergency management center is slated to begin in January, with completion by June.

Victoria County is a step closer to having a new emergency operation center by the start of next year's hurricane season.

The commissioners court voted unanimously Monday to accept requests for proposals for finishing out the basement of the courthouse annex as the new emergency operation center.

"This is really going to be very, very beneficial for the residents of Victoria County and for the emergency operation staff," County Commissioner Kevin Janak said.

Planners are on an aggressive schedule they hope will result in Victoria's new, state-of-the-art emergency operation center being completed in six months.

Construction would begin in January and be completed by the start of hurricane season in June.

"We've had a need for an all hazards facility that will serve us in every type of incident for a long time," said Jeb Lacey, the emergency management coordinator. "We're going to be very excited to have one and to be able serve our first responders all that much better and therefore serve the community."

Joyce Dean, the county's director of Administrative Services, said the project would involve converting the 14,000-square-foot basement of the courthouse annex at 205 N. Bridge St. into a brain center capable of handling all types of disasters.

The $1.455 million facility would replace the current emergency operation center at 700 Main Center. The aging 700 Main Center has suffered foundation failure and city officials don't think it could withstand a Category 3 hurricane, which has winds of at least 111 mph.

The new facility would be designed to withstand sustained Category 5 winds of 170 mph.

Dean said the new center will be renovated and equipped using a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a $455,000 grant from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program.

County Judge Don Pozzi said the county has been working for two or three years for a grant for the new emergency center.

"The place we're moving to will easily withstand up to a Category 5 storm," Pozzi said. "It's going to be a very nice emergency operation center for the city and county."

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