Oklahoma Opens Renovated Emergency Operations Center

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and state leaders including Gov. Brad Henry and Lt. Gov. Jari Askins took part in Wednesday's grand opening of the renovated State Emergency Operations Center in Oklahoma City. It is located 20 feet below ground level at the Capitol Complex. The 12,000-square-foot EOC was open to visitors during the day.

Renovation of the EOC began in April 2006 with a $1.9 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a $654,000 appropriation from the Oklahoma Legislature. Originally constructed in 1963 to ensure continuity of government in the event of a nuclear attack, the EOC is now the center of state resource management during disasters.

During the past two years, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management staffers have coordinated response-recovery efforts for 13 federal disaster declarations from a temporary EOC. "Unfortunately, our state has ample opportunity to use this center," Albert Ashwood, the Department of Emergency Management's director, said Wednesday. "In fact, since presidential disasters were first numbered in 1955, Oklahoma ranks fourth in total number and first per capita nationally in declarations."

Initially, the center has 22 workstations available, with additional stations available in the Liaison Room. A media center and Governor's Conference Room built to DHS standards are additional features, and the EOC includes a room for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation from which immediate visual information can be provided to emergency responders, according to the department.

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