Ohio's "Emergency Operations Center"

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Two excerpts from the article. Full story at the link...


[begin article]

Doomsday bunker vs. millennium bug

By Steve Bennish


COLUMBUS--Knowledgeable state employees call it "The Bunker."

Officially it goes by the more prosaic name "Emergency Operations Center."

In truth, it is the heart of a $13 million nondescript concrete gray structure that squats on an earthen mound eight miles northwest of downtown Columbus.

On Dec. 29, just days before the calendar turns to the year 2000, state officials will activate this cavernous chamber just in case disaster strikes in the form of the Y2K computer bug. The center will be staffed 12 hours a day through Dec. 30, and 24 hours a day from Dec. 31 until no longer necessary.

It promises to be an unusual event--the first time in Ohio history that officials will meet to deal with a potential disruption of essential services. Should a power plant or water utility unexpectedly fail, relief efforts can be coordinated from 12 feet underground.


Presiding over the Ohio Emergency Management Agency is Executive Director James R. Williams, a low-key retired two-star Army National Guard general who has also spent the past 32 years in various leadership and staff positions at the agency. When it comes to Y2K, Williams is no doomsayer. He just wants the state to be ready.

"If a problem arises we can quickly coordinate a response," Williams said. "This is not a panic situation. If nothing happens, we can go home and watch football."

There are no plans to call up the Ohio National Guard but in the event a crisis occurs, that could be done quickly. An underground tunnel connects the bunker to the guard's headquarters next door.

The operations center is in the basement of a complex that houses dispatching facilities for the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio State Highway Patrol, as well as the Emergency Management Agency.

There, the agency's 80 employees monitor the state's nuclear reactors, plan emergency drills, update response plans and process federal assistance claims from disaster victims.

So far, the emergency agency has fielded about 50 phone calls from the public with questions about Y2K. The agency's response: any prudent household should keep a three-day supply of food and water on hand just in case. That's what you'd normally need for a severe winter storm. The agency is not encouraging citizens to buy household generators.

Built in 1994 with help from a federal grant, Ohio's emergency center, or bunker, has done some duty every year since 1995, coordinating flood relief efforts along the Ohio River.

It is, say state officials, one of the most sophisticated emergency management centers in the country.

The high-security reinforced concrete building is surrounded by a barbed wire fence, has its own dormitories, water well, food, filtered air supply and power. A state air field is just down the road.

Five huge projection screens loom over the emergency operations center. There are enough computer terminals to accommodate a representative from each of the state's 54 agencies. In an instant, a technician can punch up the latest weather satellite, news bulletin, or detailed county map. The governor and his cabinet have their own separate room with a television monitor. A copper-lined vault meant to block electrical disturbances from a nuclear detonation holds a powerful radio transmitter for direct communication to the president.



-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), March 09, 1999


Kevin, I read the same article and was going to post it myself. In our paper it was hidden away easy to overlook. My first thought when I read it was, I though it was just going to be a bump in the road per Senator Bennet's statement last week. Hum, apparently Ohio officials aren't sure whats going to happen, maybe someone should tell the Senator. Kevin are you from Ohio too? At least some officials are taking it serious.

-- Bay (Baylee@aol.com), March 09, 1999.

" The Govenor and his cabinet have their own seperate room-------" "has its own dormitories, food, waterwell, filtered air supply and power-------" Good for the Governor. How do you other Ohio folks feel about this? Impressed?

-- Watchful (seethesea@msn.com), March 09, 1999.

Kevin: Thanks for the info. It is 'most' comforting to know, our higher ups will be comfy come the big day.....I dont know about you, but it doesnt make me feel any better about being in Ohio.

-- consumer (private@aol.com), March 09, 1999.

It's really not very nice to hoard the bunkers, they really need to share.


I'd LOVE to be a fly on the wall in one of these 'installments' come Jan. 2000.

-- Deborah (info@wars.com), March 09, 1999.


I'm from Kentucky.

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), March 09, 1999.

I live in the Dayton 'burbs.

Notice that these folks are still recommending that you & I should prepare for only THREE DAYS --- but no mention of a power source, fuel, or weapons, of course. I guess if you're safe inside a bunker that's stocked with food, water, medical supplies, & God knows what all, you won't much care that folks outside have only enough supplies for three days. If I weren't already preparing (since April, actually), an article such as this would have me running, not walking, to Sam's.

-- nervous (in@dayton.area), March 09, 1999.

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