FORT MYERS, Fla. - This summer Lee County opened up its brand new Emergency Operations Center, a building where local leaders have a place to gather when a disaster strikes.
Public safety officials spent years envisioning the new EOC facility and pulled together $16 million to get it built. Now it's open and ready for emergencies.
The building can withstand winds up to 200 mph. Inside, in the 4500 square foot situation room there are more than 100 work stations. Also in the situation room is a massive 40 foot wide screen.
When it gets too noisy in the situation room, groups can find space in seven, smaller conference rooms, including one with video conferencing.
It's a startling change from the way things used to be in the old emergency building. The cold war-era bunker-style building dates back to the 1970's and is much smaller.
"The building was packed and noisy and very busy and very cramped and that adds to the stress," Interim Director of Emergency Management, Gerald Campbell explained of the old building.
Many officials remember the tight working spaces in a room that was barely 1400 square feet. Television stations did live reports from the hallway outside the main room, and people had to be careful, or they'd trip over cables!
The new space also includes a large area for people to eat and catch a second wind.