Florida officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday to mark construction of a $180 million State Emergency Operations Center that is targeted to open in 2025.
The new facility, near the current Emergency Operations Center in southeast Tallahassee, is designed to provide space for up to 1,000 people to simultaneously coordinate responses to natural disasters, emergencies and events such as Super Bowls and national political-party gatherings.
In the current center, “we can only house about 400 of those individuals,” state Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said.
“So, you have DMS (the Department of Management Services), Department of Health, you have Florida Department of Law Enforcement, FHP (the Florida Highway Patrol), they have to run what we call tactical operations in their own individual offices because we're just out of room,” Guthrie continued.
“And when that happens, we start to get fragmented messaging. We get duplication of effort. ... So, having all of that underneath one roof, and having a big enough location where we can bring all of those resources underneath one roof, is why we need a new state emergency operations center.”
The new building will be across Capital Circle Southeast from the current facility.
The 2021-2022 state budget included $100 million for planning, design, site acquisition, permitting and construction. The 2022-2023 budget had $80 million for construction.
The main room of the current building is designed for 200 people, but up to 400 people have been crowded into desk spaces when responding to storms.
The new main room will provide space for 500 people.
The new building is also designed to withstand winds up to 200 mph. The current, 27-year-old facility is built to withstand a Category 3 hurricane, which is reached when maximum sustained winds reach 111 mph.