When countywide emergencies strike, the second floor of the Justice Center becomes the county’s official Emergency Operations Center.
Thursday’s drill was conducted for the Coastal Bend Council of Governments to make sure emergency operators know what to do if a hurricane should hit the county this year.
The official start of the season is Sunday. But the threat of a hurricane becomes real when the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico reaches 80 degrees.
Members of the Bee County’s Road and Bridge Department, Beeville’s water and wastewater department, the city’s street department, the Bee County Sheriff’s Office, the Beeville Police Department, Angel Care Ambulance Service and local school districts were on hand for the drill.
County and City Emergency Operations Coordinator Mike Willow had said earlier that the drill would be a desktop rehearsal for a real hurricane.
COG disaster experts sent messages throughout the counties within the Coastal Bend updating each agency with a new disaster situation with which to deal.
But instead of physically responding to the emergency, each agency wrote down what action would be taken to deal with each situation.
Willow and his predecessor, Robert Bridge, kept those taking part in the drill informed on what was going on throughout the COG area.
Earlier in the week, representatives of some of the same agencies and departments had discussed where to find assistance for certain emergency situations and how to fund operations that would incur costs.
Willow said earlier that an El Niño weather prediction for South Texas means that it is possible this could be one of those rare years when a hurricane coming north through the Gulf of Mexico could strike the Coastal Bend area.
In the past, state emergency operations agencies have set up a staging area at the Chase Field Industrial and Airport Complex, where there is ample parking for the utility trucks and other operations that could be needed following a hurricane.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.