When there's a hurricane, there's no busier place than your county's Emergency Operations Center, or EOC.
The EOC is the clearing house for all the major decisions about what you should do before, during and after the storm.
The Lee County Emergency Operations Center is really considered the nerve center when a hurricane is coming through or threatening Southwest Florida. If you think of the county where you live as your house -- like people are running in different directions, asking 'who's going to get the pets?' Think of the EOC as the kitchen table, where everyone sits down and comes up with a plan.
And if you need any reminder of why you need a plan right now, just look at the images of where we were in that cone of uncertainty with Irma last year.
We asked the Director of Emergency Management for Lee County, Lee Mayfield, what does their main room look like, what's the feel in there and what are they focusing on mostly?
“Very busy. We're fortunate in Lee County to have good partnerships with all of our different agencies; so everyone from EMS, fire, law enforcement, utilities DOT.”
We asked him to show us a little bit about the layout of the land. “This is our EOC Situation Room, where everyone sits and works during those larger scale storms. We're structured on a FEMA model; the ICS (Incident Command System). This is really standard throughout the country, so people can come in from outside Lee County and support us.”
And when it comes to logistics, what's the one biggie they took away from Irma? “It's important to have an organized resource management system.”
So what have they learned moving forward? “I think one thing we're trying to do is grow our shelter capacity. Even square footage and shelter space.”
I don't know if we can think of a more stressful job than what they do. We asked Mayfield why he does it. “It's fun to give back…and it's challenging as well.”
More information on Southwest Florida EOC's: