Emergency Operations

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No one will argue that the Emergency Operations Center needs a new facility. Every inch of space is used at the Panama City location, even a desk and two chairs fill a former shower. But what concerns the director of the EOC, Chief Bob Majka, is the fact is sits in a flood zone.

“We're currently located in a Category three hurricane storm surge zone."

That means at some point during a disaster, the EOC could have to pack up and move out in the middle of a storm.

Gulf Coast Community College recently offered to work with the county to build a new facility to house both the EOC and first responder training programs at the North Bay Campus in Southport.

"Relocating to a facility where the probability of having to re-locate to another facility during a disaster is reduced, certainly in the long term will help us to provide a better service to the citizens."

There are no flood zones and no reason to evacuate during a hurricane, but why aren't all the commissioners as pleased about the proposed site for a new EOC.

Commissioner George Gainer was the only dissenting vote at Tuesday's commission meeting to decide whether to move forward on the project. "It's just the matter of operating an emergency center in the middle of the people rather than the middle of the woods."

Gainer says the only plus to moving the EOC to North Bay is the cost. College and emergency officials say construction of the building could be paid through FEMA and state funding.

The college already owns the property and intends to provide general maintenance and pay utility costs.

"I don't think to remove it from the population would be a deal at any price."