Local

Emergency Operations Center Quietly Helping Residents

By Joel Thomas, CBS 11 News
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Police are out on the roads to help anyone who might get stuck. (credit: Jonathan B. Coleman)

Police are out on the roads to help anyone who might get stuck. (credit: Jonathan B. Coleman)

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A record freeze at a time when the nation’s eyes are focused on the Super Bowl has generated some criticism about North Texas from athletes and commentators.

he unusual weather was the topic of a question injured Packers tight end Jermichael Finley fielded during a nationally televised ESPN interview Wednesday.

“You see how they handle it here?” replied Finley, who is an east Texas native. “We don’t got the equipment to get the ice off the road. I think they need to get on that and make this a great Super Bowl weekend.”

Fort Worth emergency response crews and others say they are on that and have been long before the Super Bowl came to town. The City of Fort Worth has prepared for the unexpected by very quietly building a high-tech emergency operations center.

In one secure room not far from City Hall, Fort Worth assembled an emergency operations center, or EOC, for representatives from its emergency response forces, public works, police and marshal’s departments.

There are representatives from federal and state agencies and other North Texas cities. They’re all in one room; cameras are not allowed in for security reasons. But that room has been in the making for three years for this event.

“And we have had constant meetings all along the way,” said Juan Ortiz, Fort Worth Emergency Management Coordinator. “And we have had exercises all along the way, table top exercises as well as full-scale exercises.”

In fact, the new EOC was part of a massive bad weather exercise held just last month during the Cotton Bowl. Ortiz said various cities and TxDOT worked on maneuvering and positioning equipment to keep traffic flowing in key areas in a weather episode like the one the area is currently experiencing.

Ortiz said the center is divided into spaces where each area of responsibility has communication with their people on the scene, other agencies and people within the command center. He said outside state and federal agencies have praised the center for its design and that the planning goes beyond weather, into disasters both natural and man-made.

“We are prepared,” Ortiz said. “And we are putting our plan into action. And I think that is what the region is going to demonstrate is sunshine or cold weather, we are ready.”

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