By Stacey Bomser
Hurricane Irma was no match for Weston’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). In 2015 the City of Weston opened its Administrative Services Center adjacent to City Hall and near the Police Services Building. The building houses Weston’s EOC, which serves as a central command center during a crisis or disaster situation. Although Weston activated its EOC last year for Hurricane Matthew, it was really put to the test during Hurricane Irma, with city and critical staff members holed up inside.
The 27,000 square-foot facility was built to the latest hurricane codes and equipped with impact-resistant windows and back-up power generators. The building’s second floor is a secure space which includes the Emergency Operations Center, along with the City’s Technology Services Department
During Hurricane Irma, Weston’s Emergency Operations Center was fully activated and manned around the clock by the City’s emergency management team, including City Manager John Flint, Weston BSO Police Chief Kevin Butler, District Fire Chief Bruce Angier, and BSO deputies and Fire Rescue personnel. The team monitored the storm, ensured the safety of Weston residents and answered phones in the 24-hour call center. The City also had a representative assigned to Broward County’s EOC and maintained contact with Broward County’s Emergency Managers to coordinate response efforts as needed.
As the storm approached, the City mobilized its numerous communications efforts including its new Twitter account, @WestonFLAlert, dedicated to emergency situations. Before, during and after the storm, Weston issued numerous update notices as well as tips on everything from how to secure your home for a storm and how to safely operate a generator to a call for people to donate blood at Cleveland Clinic Florida when the region was experiencing a severe blood shortage.
Before and after Hurricane Irma’s impact, the Weston Emergency Operations Center was visited by scientists from the National Severe Storms Laboratory, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They had been collecting data in the Weston area throughout Hurricane Irma and their truck was spotted near US 27 and Interstate 75. The National Severe Storms Laboratory serves the nation by working to improve lead time and accuracy of severe weather warnings and forecasts in order to save lives and reduce property damage.
In addition to the EOC, the City’s Administrative Services Center is the full-time home for Permitting Services (commonly referred to as the Building Department), Code Enforcement, Fire Marshal/Inspections and the Technology Services Department.