A comment Monday by Assistant City Manager Troy Riggs may raise a few eyebrows. He said he's not sure whether the City's Emergency Management Center would survive a tropical storm.
That's pretty significant, considering that the facility is supposed to serve as a command center during emergencies. That is why the City is reportedly considering moving that operation to a new venue, and possibly even building a brand new emergency operations center at the airport.
Over the years, 3News has been inside the EOC, which is currently located at the Frost Bank building, numerous times as emergency workers trained for the arrival of a hurricane. While the training concentrated on saving lives and property, behind the scenes, city leaders have been wondering if the building itself would even be able to withstand something like a tropical storm.
"We think it's inadequate. Does it provide a function now? Yes. Is it what we want for the future? No," Riggs said. "We have to do better. One, it is prone to flood. I know we had some events before I arrived where some first responders told us they had to wade through water to get there. The other thing I was asking was how durable is that building. There's a question about how much that roof can withstand during a tropical storm or small hurricane. Those are questions we can't afford to have for an emergency operations center."
The planned EOC would cost $8-10 million, and is close to being included on the City's 2012 bond proposal list. The City is looking at building it out at the airport, which would mean that fire administration would also be relocated there.
But it might not make it onto the final project list, meaning that a new facility would then have to be in the City's long-range plans, which Riggs said would mean that the City would probably look at moving operations to a building that could better withstand flooding and high winds.
Right now, the City's backup emergency operations center is the AT&T building by the Cathedral. So, the City is already prepared to move its emergency operations if that Frost Bank building roof doesn't hold, or if flooding makes it impossible for the center to operate.
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