Storm HQ could collapse in a hurricane

Sarasota, Florida -- This week starts hurricane season and 10 News has learned one county is facing a huge challenge if a major storm comes our way.

In Sarasota County, a strong hurricane will send even the experts scrambling for cover.

The building that houses Sarasota's storm response headquarters -- the Emergency Operations Center -- is not storm proof.

If a Category 2 or higher hurricane is coming, emergency managers have to bail out of the building and get to their own shelter at an elementary school.

This isn't smart and it's not safe. What are they doing to fix this nightmare?

To answer my questions, Sarasota County's emergency chief met me at a construction site along Cattlemen Road well east of Downtown Sarasota. It's where they're building a new Emergency Operations Center.

"This is gonna be the place where we can actually do our job," Emergency Management Director Ed McCrane said.

The new center's thick walls can handle a monster Category 5 storm.

It's several miles inland, unlike the old center downtown -- now high and dry near Interstate 75. And it'll be ready for the next hurricane season, in 2015.

The cost? $18 million.

"We're getting a state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center. It's a building that our emergency responders will be able to stay in. We won't have to leave and go to a backup facility," McCrane said.

He added that the building will also house the year-round 24/7 emergency 911 call center for the county.

McCrane says the county will be going from worst to first -- from a center that could collapse on itself to one of the most advanced in the world.

"We've looked at all of the EOC's that have been built in the last ten years in the state," he said. "We've brought those directors in, many of them, to give us their, 'What would you do different? What would you do better?' And we tried to incorporate that into this facility."

For this hurricane season, they will still have to evacuate to Wilkinson Elementary School in a major storm. Moving all of the people and equipment takes an exhausting 36 hours.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment