Fire Chief Robert Rocha told City Council Tuesday that we are ready and prepared for a hurricane; but because of a story that aired Monday, which revealed that top city staff had concerns about our emergency operations center, Rocha did admit that the building was not the ideal location for the EOC.
On Monday, Assistant City Manager Troy Riggs said that he and other city leaders had serious doubts about whether or not the Frost Bank building could survive a serious storm.
"Right now, we are able to operate out of that building," Rocha said. "I'm at a pretty high confidence level that we're going to be fine just where we're at right now. I think in the future, though, we need to take a look and see if there's a better location for that emergency operations center. Right now it's in a bank building. That building was not designed to be a hardened building."
The current EOC is located in the Frost Bank building on Leopard near Port. Riggs said there is a concern that the flat roof of the building won't hold during a bad storm. Also, Riggs said that emergency workers have had to wade through floodwaters to get to the building during previous storms.
So the City has secured the AT&T building as a backup EOC in case operations have to be moved during a storm. There are also plans to build a new EOC as part of a bond 2012 proposal.
"I don't want to cry wolf on something that's not an issue," Mayor Joe Adame said. "I don't want it to be an issue that says it's in bad shape, when it maybe could be utilized just to create something that would be on the bond issue."
"I would be happy to see it included in a bond 2012 package," City Councilman Chris Adler said
The airport is the preferred site for a new EOC building. The City estimates that it would cost up to $10 million to build.
Fire administration would also be moved to the new site and plans call for 911 operations to be relocated there in the future as well. Councilwoman Nelda Martinez said she wants to make sure that staff looks at existing city buildings as a new EOC site before the issue goes on a bond. That study is currently underway.
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