The new National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC)/DDM building – which workmen will start constructing next April or May – will include a section that can be immediately transformed to accommodate government if another catastrophic event hits the BVI.
“If we are impacted as we were with a ‘Category 5’ that creates the level of destruction like Irma or Maria, we will have occupancy levels on the top floor of that facility for the critical services in government to continue to operate,” explained Director of the DDM, Sharleen DaBreo.
The three-level building is being designed to be disaster resistant and self-sustainable with backup power, water, and telecommunication faculties.
Plans for the building will also provide for the inclusion of an emergency shelter, Dabreo said.
“Once we’re there, the building is supposed to accommodate us for a period of time without us needing to have access to external services,” she said; noting that DDM staff will occupy the top floor of the facility during ‘regular’ operations.
The second floor will effectively be the heart of the building known as the emergency operations centre.
This floor will consist of an operations room, a multimedia room, communications room, a breakout room, and will even have facilities for showering.
“The lower portion of the building is going to occupy the contingency stocks that we have for the territory. It’s important that we have a safe place to store them because you know what happens when you have flooding and hurricanes,” DaBreo said during a community to discuss the project last week.
The facility, which will replace the old DDM building at McNamara on Tortola, will also have improved parking facilities.
Coupled with infrastructural designs that will reduce damage from seismic activity and 220 miles-per-hour winds, the building will also be fitted with a fire suppression system comprising automatic fire sprinklers, a fire hose cabinet, and portable fire extinguishers.
The NEOC facility is being constructed in accordance with the 2018 International Building Code and will be completed within 16 to 18 months of the start of construction, Puerto Rican designers have said.
Architectural designs are expected to be completed by December.
The project is being funded through the Caribbean Development Bank and is projected to cost between four to five million dollars.
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