Emergency updates

Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 30, 2006 at 11:54 p.m.
If the Florida Legislature accomplishes nothing else during its session beginning in March, it should approve Gov. Jeb Bush's request for $70 million to be used to strengthen emergency-operation centers in 22 counties that don't meet national standards.
The centers don't meet the standards for a Category 3 hurricane.
Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, doesn't even have a dedicated emergency operations center. When hurricanes approach, emergency workers have to spend time moving computers into a central location. "I've been fighting for (a permanent location) for 25 years now," said Billy Wagner, Monroe County's emergency director.
In Collier County, the emergency operations center is in a flood zone, said Jaime Sarbaugh, spokeswoman for the center. "We have 16 work stations, but during our briefings, we have about 100 people in here. We definitely don't have room. It's outdated."
Now, with so many hurricanes, officials are seeing both the importance - and the inadequacies - of the operation centers. It merits the support of every House and Senate member.

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