vanessa-newVanessa Remmers covers Stafford County government and schools for and The Free Lance-Star.

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What is an EOC?

On Monday afternoon, as Sandy made its way through our region, officials everywhere were continuously following her path.

Stafford County set up its EOC — emergency operations center — late Sunday. I visited Monday afternoon, when conditions weren’t too bad outside.

Located in the basement of the public safety building on Courthouse Road, the EOC is the hub for emergency situations. Desk stations are set up for representatives from various departments, including human services, finance, utilities, public works, along with the sheriff’s office, fire and rescue personnel, and VDOT. Staff work around the clock in 12 hour shifts, with access to a break room down the hall. (It was stocked with subs when I stopped by.) Staff and volunteers were also taking calls from residents.

But because so many businesses were closed (the federal and local government offices, along with schools), and people heeded advice to stay home, there were fewer calls than had been expected.

The EOC is a helpful tool, say county staff, because everyone who would need to be contacted in emergency situations is already in one room. Blocked roads? VDOT is there. Public utilities have issues? Staff are on hand. Worried about spending on the emergency? The finance department will keep track.

Regular meetings are held throughout the day, and the team monitors power outages, the track of the storm and communication with other localities.

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