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Long Beach to build $1.4M emergency operations center

The office will be the nerve center for government, utility and emergency services officials during storms or other major disasters.

Long Beach is building an office of emergency

Long Beach is building an office of emergency management at City Hall to serve as a hub for government and utility officials during events such as superstorm Sandy, whose aftermath is seen here on Oct. 31, 2012.  Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

Long Beach city officials will soon start construction on a $1.4 million emergency operations center at City Hall.

City Council members last week approved a contract with Riverhead-based Construction Consultants of LI to carve out a section of the city’s sixth floor office space and council chambers to build a new operations center. The office of emergency management (OEM) will be staffed during storms or other major disasters to coordinate with Nassau County and state officials, as well as utility providers to restore service to residents.

The city approved a $144,000 contract in April for Cameron Engineering in Woodbury to design the new OEM.

The project is fully funded by the governor’s office of storm recovery to help the city bridge communication gaps after superstorm Sandy.

“What happened during Sandy, is we didn’t have one place to work out of. City hall lost power, and we were working in a bus outside from Nassau Emergency Management for communications,” Long Beach Fire Commissioner Scott Kemins said. “During the biggest days after the storm, we were not able to communicate to the outside world and the mainland.”

The new operations center will include a rooftop generator to be fully self-sufficient, Kemins said. It will include an office area, updated technology and weather monitoring equipment, and communications with county emergency officials and utilities, such as PSEG and National Grid.

The city hopes to start construction by the end of the summer and complete it within six months.

"Superstorm Sandy was a clear indication that coordinated operations are paramount to the safety of this great city," CIty Council Vice President Chumi Diamond said. "Establishing this new emergency operations center at city hall will ensure collaboration between city government, neighbors and other resources needed to properly manage emergencies."

City officials said they will also plan to staff the OEM with county and utility representatives during an emergency.

Long Beach had a LIPA representative embedded in the city after Sandy to restore power and officials would plan to do the same with PSEG to monitor outages, Kemins said.

“A center like this with the major players opens lines of communication needed for any type of major event,” Kemins said.

Equipment for the Long Beach OEM will be partially covered by a $250,000 capital assistance grant secured by Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach).

The Town of Hempstead has also allocated $282,000 in their capital plan to build a new OEM in town office space at 200 N. Franklin Ave. The town's storm surveillance and access control systems will also be upgraded.

The Hempstead OEM also will provide access for residents to reach government officials during an emergency, town officials said.

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