Upgrades scheduled for Prince George Emergency Operations Center

PRINCE GEORGE, VA (WWBT) - Prince George County just received a financial boost to enhance its Emergency Operations Center. The money will be used to increase communications capabilities. When Hurricane Irene hit the county lost phone and internet services -- there was no back-up network system. Now, that's changing.

Mike Warden is concerned about the next big storm and the aftermath.

"I'm worried about power going out and not having water," he said.

Problems he encountered after Hurricane Irene.

The county lost internet and communication capabilities making it difficult to get the word out to folks like Mike -- that free shelter, water and food was being offered by the county.

"We lost communications in the Emergency Operations Center and the emergency communications center for about 36 hours," said Prince George County Fire and EMS Deputy Director Brad Owens.

911 calls had to be routed through other jurisdictions.

"When we have to route those phone calls to another jurisdiction there's a delay of when we can get resources to the scene because they go through another center and we're contacted via cell phone," Owens explained.

Thanks to a match grant, the county now has $14,000 to upgrade its Emergency Operations Center.

"It doesn't have adequate computers. It doesn't have enough for all emergency service functions that would be performed in the E.O.C.," Owens said.

Six computers will be purchased, as well as a back-up internet system.

"In the event we were to lose our internet service again like before -- it'll give emergency services the ability to still tie into the network and communicate with other jurisdictions and agencies that we rely on in an emergency," he said.

Good news says Mike - who agrees, communication is extremely important during a storm.

The new equipment is expected to be up and running within the next two months.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.