Newly renovated State Emergency Operations Center opens


The newly renovated State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was unveiled following a ribbon-cutting by Gov. Brad Henry today.

The EOC is the location from which state resources are deployed during disaster and emergency times. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) oversees operations at the EOC, which is located 20 feet below ground on the State Capitol Complex.

The facility was first constructed 45 years ago to ensure continuity of government operations in case of enemy attack. Over time, the operations center became too small and outdated. In 2006, a complete overhaul began thanks to a $1.9 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a $654,000 appropriation from the Oklahoma State Legislature.

While the new EOC lies within the same footprint, the space utilized for operations was greatly expanded. The updated EOC renews the state's dedication to minimizing the effects of both manmade and natural disasters, said OEM Director Albert Ashwood.

"Unfortunately, our state has ample opportunity to use this center," said Ashwood. "In fact, since presidential disasters were first numbered in 1955, Oklahoma ranks fourth in total number and first per capita nationally in declarations."

An initial 22 work stations are available for public and private sector representatives to staff and, if necessary, additional stations are available in the Liaison Room. A media Center, to facilitate press coverage, and the Governor's Conference Room, built to U.S. Homeland Security standards, mark just two of the additional features of the new EOC.

The new facility also includes a room for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) from which immediate visual information can be provided to emergency responders, and to support other agencies in any disaster response.

Specifically, ODOT will share its network of mapping systems, Dynamic Message Boards, and images with emergency officials inside the EOC room. These resources will provide an unprecedented advantage in directing statewide response in the event of a disaster.

"We welcome the opportunity to continue to provide support to Emergency Management in the event of a disaster," said Oklahoma Department of Transportation Director Gary Ridley. "During crisis, we have always come together and worked as a team and we are glad to continue to do so."

During the last two years, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) staff has overseen the state's disaster response-recovery efforts for 13 presidential disaster declarations from a temporary EOC.

Lt. Gov. Jari Askins was also on-hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.