New emergency operations center proposed for Onslow County

ONSLOW COUNTY, NC (WITN) Emergency Services leaders in Onslow County say their facility poses challenges and safety hazards during one of the most dangerous times in eastern Carolina, hurricane season.

That is why leaders were given a proposal Monday for a new emergency operations center.

Emergency Services Director Norman Bryson said in order to best serve the growing population, they need a new emergency operations center. The EOC is the site where first responders and leaders operate out of during hurricanes and other major emergencies.

Bryson says the current 20 year old EOC is built to withstand a middle range category 2 storm. He also said it has hazardous and insufficient wind ratings.

Officials say there is potential for storms comparable to and worse than Florence to hit the area over the next few decades.

Hurricane Florence damaged the EOC, both the roof and under the building, while hundreds of people, including many first responders, were stationed there.

Bryson says, "When you start considering you have a building built for 30, 35, maybe 40 people, and then you're trying to accommodate 250, those are very tight close quarters. There's some sanitation issues you have to worry about, so we've been looking at growing for years."

The county manager said there is $20 million that could be used for the proposed project. County commissioners, however, said they're already millions of dollars in debt with school system projects, and a new EOC would put them in a, "financial scrape."

There are four potential locations for proposed a new EOC, including right next to the county government building. The buildings would be connected and officials say this would be the cheapest option.

Onslow County leaders will consider architectural bids next before making any decisions.