Santa Barbara County officials broke ground Friday morning February 12 for the new County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The groundbreaking concludes a more than 10-year effort to get a permanent EOC in Santa Barbara County. Upon completion, the 11,000-square-foot facility will be the center of information management, support, and decision making during local emergencies. Funding for the $7.4 million project comes from $5.4 million in county funds, and $2 million from the Aware and Prepare Initiative of the Orfalea Fund.
The current EOC is located in a trailer in Goleta, where the equipment used there requires around three hours to become operational after the announcement of an emergency situation. The new EOC will be active and operational at all times, ready to go as soon as an emergency situation develops.
Officials from the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, Santa Barbara County Fire, California Highway Patrol, the American Red Cross, representatives from Pedro Nava’s office, and numerous other organizations attended the groundbreaking at the Santa Barbara County Fire Department’s Headquarters on Cathedral Oaks Road. Emergency Operations Chief Michael Harris directed the proceedings, acknowledging the many public and private organizations that have come together to get the EOC up and running.
Paul Orfalea of the Orfalea Foundation spoke of the importance of having an EOC in a community bordered by fault lines, ocean, and arid hills. The Orfalea Foundation’s Aware and Prepare Initiative has provided crucial funding and support for the EOC.
Construction, which began Friday morning, will be conducted by Melchiori Construction, a Santa Barbara company whose founder and president Mark Melchiori spoke to the importance of having an EOC in Santa Barbara County.
Representing Assemblymember Pedro Nava, Hillary Blackerby presented certificates of recognition to the Santa Barbara County, the Orfalea Fund, the James S. Bower Foundation, the Santa Barbara Foundation, and the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation.