EOC passes first real test

There were many unsung heroes who performed way above the call of duty during the blizzards of 2010. The list contains farmers, firemen, electric crews, paramedics, police, members of the National Guard, amateur radio operators and DelDOT snowplow drivers.

At the top of the list is a group of people most Sussex residents are not even aware exists – the staff at the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

EOC staff worked around the clock for a week, catching a few hours sleep on cots in their offices. Most were able to sneak away one day to see their families and dig out their own driveways.

Their families were dealing with the same issues many faced during the back-to-back storms ­– loss of power, stuck vehicles and unplowed roads.

EOC, located at the Sussex County airport, can be compared to the center of the universe in an emergency. Equipped with back-up generators, the center can function during the worst conditions. All of the acronym agencies, DelDOT, DNREC, DEMA and EMS, had representatives manning phones sitting around a large table under massive TV screens to track the storm and catch up on the latest news.

Joe Thomas, EOS director, said it’s critical to the success of any emergency operation to have all concerned under one roof.

Calls came in from all over the county throughout the two storms, but the lines lit up, according to County Administrator David Baker, during the weekend of Feb. 6 and 7 from people without electricity and then again Wednesday, Feb. 10, from people on cell phones who were stranded on roads.

Although a critical analysis of the center’s performance will take place once the snow finally melts away, it appears the operation passed with flying colors in its first real test since opening in 2008.

Sussex County EOC.

Crazy weather at the EOC.

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