Victoria County prepares for major disaster with a mobile command center


Nov. 8, 2010 at 5:08 a.m.

A mobile command center capable of coordinating response to the worst of disasters in the Crossroads should be ready for use by the start of hurricane season.

"It's much like our emergency operations center that we got the grant for," said Chief Deputy Terry Simons of the Victoria County Sheriff's Office. "It will be like that, with the exception that it's on wheels."

The commissioners court voted Monday to request bids for the command center, which is estimated to cost about $550,000.

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said that's about half the cost of ordering one built from scratch by a dealer. He and Simons said they were able to keep the cost down by buying surplus military equipment and using various grants.

"Once it's complete, it will be state of the art," Simons said. "So in the event that we have to go somewhere where infrastructure doesn't exist, which is pretty much anywhere else in our region, we'll be able to take this with us."

Simons said the Federal Emergency Management Agency categorizes mobile command centers using four levels, with Level 4 being the lowest. The Victoria County rig will be a Level 1 center capable of handling incidents of national importance, he said.

It will consist of a 53-foot tractor-trailer rig with two meeting rooms, a galley, restrooms and communications.

O'Connor said he learned just how vulnerable the area is without such a mobile command center after visiting the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and three disasters in Texas.

There are few mobile command centers of this magnitude in Texas, he said.

"To get one of these vehicles to respond to us, the closest would be Austin and Houston," O'Connor said. "It would take hours for them to load up and get here."



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