Victoria County Emergency Operation Center braces for first hurricane season

Special section inside Thursday's Advocate prepares Crossroads for hurricane season. For more online coverage, go to Hurricane Central.

Victoria County Emergency Operations Center is ready to meet this year's hurricane season head on.

Although the official forecast is not out, Jeb Lacey, emergency management coordinator, said there is hope that it will be a quiet season, based on weather patterns.

"It only takes one storm to make it a busy hurricane season," he said.

This is the county's first hurricane season in its state-of-the-art facility.

Lacey said the county is better positioned to respond to emergencies, thanks to the move.

From working with community and national nonprofits, federal agencies and direct individual support, the EOC can now more effectively organize support where it is needed, Lacey said.

"We have the confidence that continuity of government will be maintained and the confidence to help the community recover," Lacey said.

While the city and county own the center, it will serve as a regional facility for the seven surrounding counties and for state and federal personnel and emergency responders.

The facility is at an elevation of 93 feet and is more than 500 yards outside the floodplain. The building itself can survive a Category 5 hurricane and sustained winds of 170 miles per hour.

Lacey said the new facility will "make our lives easier" by making recovery efforts more effective in case of an emergency.

"The big thing is getting ready for the catastrophic damage that follows," Lacey said. "Continuity of government is a huge step in recovery."

He said the focus is on keeping critical infrastructure in place so the community can recover itself, he said.

That includes everything from electricity, water and sewer security, medical support and roadways.

Maintaining those takes the situation from "can't recover" to "could recover," he said.

"Winning the battle isn't us doing a good job," he said. "It's the community doing a good job and us filling in the gaps."

Each year, the center looks at local and national responses to the previous hurricane season.

He said their focus is analyzing how the EOC interacts with entities in the field and refining the relationships and defining each group's responsibilities.

"If they feel better supported, they're more empowered to make better change," Lacey said.

He said the reorganization of these relationships has gradually taken place as the center anticipated moving to the new facility.

"The faster a community recovers, the more likely it is to fully recover," he said.