Sequim setting up emergency operations center with June finish targeted

The radio room for Sequim’s new city emergency operations center inside the Clallam Transit Center can be powered with a solar generator if needed

The radio room for Sequim’s new city emergency operations center inside the Clallam Transit Center can be powered with a solar generator if needed

SEQUIM — The city is another step closer toward preparing for a natural disaster or major emergency.

City staff revealed Sequim’s new emergency operations center inside the Clallam Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St., on Monday.

It is expected to be ready by June.

In the works since planning for the Sequim Civic Center began, the transit center can be converted for emergency purposes in less than an hour, Police Chief Bill Dickinson said.

“I think we are better prepared now than we have ever been,” he said.

“We’re a little bit better organized. We’re still working to try and get all of our staff trained.”

The center has five work stations, including areas for city staffers to work with topics such as finance and planning.

All stations are mobile, said Steve Rose, Sequim’s information technology director, with tablets and preloaded forms for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and software and battery backups.

Rose said the building will have to stand on its own and the center’s server room will connect to the Civic Center to back up critical systems to continue the city’s regular operations in case of an emergency.

Dickinson said city staff plan to move a generator used at the former police station and place it on the west side of the building.

A 1,000-gallon propane tank — enough to supply propane for seven days with full-time use — will be installed underground on the southwest corner of the center’s property.

Staff members also are investigating installing an amateur radio, known as a ham radio.

Dickinson said city staff chose the Transit Center because it is expected to hold up in a major earthquake.

“It’s a wood-framed, single-story building that statistically holds up better than multi-story buildings and cinder block buildings,” he said.

“These buildings are more flexible. We can expect to see cracks in the walls and see ceiling tiles fall out and become floor tiles.”

If the Transit Center does fall, Dickinson said, the alternative plan would be to set up operations and a tent camp from the Public Works’ shop on West Hemlock Street.

Once complete, city staff estimate the project costing about $62,500.

Sue Hagener, administrative services director, said about $100,000 in contingency funds is available from the capital facilities fund to pay off the center’s upgrades.

She said the city saved money by doing it all at once rather than at different times.

Most of the costs were for electrical work and technology such as for a new server ($11,151), wiring for the generator ($13,842) and tablets ($7,000).

Dickinson said the emergency operations center is expected to be used during disaster-preparedness drills from June 7-10 so staff members know the necessary steps during a disaster.

For more information about the center, call 360-683-4139.

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Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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