Tours provided a behind the scenes view to the heartbeat of the county during disasters.
Tom Cisco, Volusia County operations coordinator, held the door open to the county Emergency Operations Center and welcomed residents on Thursday night for the first of two public “behind the scenes” tours.
The tours were held to give residents some insight on what happens at the facility on Tiger Bay Road during disaster situations.
Volusia County Council Vice Chair Deb Denys was scheduled to host the events, but illness prevented her from attending. County Manager Jim Dinneen stepped in to give the opening remarks, and answer questions.
Dinneen said that every seat in the main operations room was filled during Hurricane Matthew in October, and that more than 200 individuals, staff and volunteers worked the disaster event, before, during and after.
“There is so much that happens for event preparation, with training and other activities,” Denys said in a phone interview after the event. “A lot doesn’t get reported on because it is so detailed. The tours are able to show residents a little bit of what we can do.”
Denys said additional tours, some including specific groups like the hotel industry, are already being planned , in response to the positive feedback they have already received about the first tours.
The 43,000-square-foot facility, at 3825 Tiger Bay Road in Daytona Beach, was built in 2013. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Communication Center, including 9-1-1, is also located in the structure to provide public dispatch.
“This building is built for 180 mile-per-hour winds and EF3 tornadoes,” Dinneen said.
A tour of the facility took the residents through the cafeteria, where Volusia County female inmates served food provided by the Department of Corrections, the press room, where all announcements from officials including Sheriff Mike Chitwood and Gov. Rick Scott, and the “map room.”
In the map room, residents were particularly interested in the brightly colored flood zone designations.
“You can go online and type in your address to see if you are in a flood zone,” Nancy Church, Geographic Information Services lead, said.
While not affecting the Florida coastline, Hurricane Harvey’s progress was being watched on multiple large screen TVs throughout the facility. The storm had not made landfall, but local officials were already expressing concern for the Gulf Coast of Texas.
“We have collaboration on every level for our citizens,” Denys said. “I am secure in the knowledge that if an event occurs, Volusia County is ready to serve every level with our citizens.”