NEW CASTLE – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced last week that more than $4.8 million in federal funds would be awarded to multiple local government agencies to enhance emergency preparedness throughout Virginia.
Craig County was one of the localities receiving grant funding, and was awarded $40,000 for Emergency Operations Center (EOC) upgrades. According to Craig County EMS Coordinator Jim Cady, the grant will fund a project to move the county EOC’s existing antiquated EOC out of The Commons complex into the old school board office. Cady said the funds would also allow for the installation of a backup generator, an 80-foot tower and radio capabilities to allow functioning as a NIMS style EOC.
Additionally, Cady said the grant funds would be used toward remodeling the building and installing telephones and computers for radio operators, ESF coordinators, EOC staff and EOC advisors as needed. Minimal living arrangements like food, bathrooms and sleep quarters will also be included for EOC staff.
“We have completed the design and engineering work for this project,” Cady told state officials in the grant summary. “We have completed and have active bids on all the major items of the project in accordance with the local and state of Virginia procurement regulations. We are prepared to place orders as soon as we have money available.”
The Craig County Board of Supervisors has approved the project and approved the matching funds. These funds are currently available.
The grant funds, administered by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, are from the fiscal year 2014 State Homeland Security Grant program.
“These critical funds, provided by our partners at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will be used immediately to help emergency planners and first responder agencies throughout Virginia get tools, equipment and other resources they need to keep Virginia communities safe,” said Governor McAuliffe. “With this grant, Virginia joins federal and local governments in working together proactively to ensure that our residents are better protected and able to recover more quickly from possible terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies.”
To allot the funds, the Office of the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security invited project proposals from local government agencies to be submitted in 10 categories of special emphasis and priority for Virginia.
A total of 187 project proposals valued at more than $23 million were received in these categories: Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE), Communications, Community Preparedness, Critical Infrastructure, Training and exercises in Incident Command System (ICS), National Incident Management System (NIMS), Information Sharing (Fusion Centers), Law Enforcement, Mass Care, Planning, Public Messaging & Crisis Communication.
The submitted projects were evaluated and scored against five criteria by approximately 50 peer reviewers. These individuals from across the state represented multiple professional groups, state agencies and local government officials with emergency expertise. Peer reviewers evaluated projects that were outside of their own region. Among the scoring criteria were the necessity of the project, how the project addresses risk, project management and the sustainment of the investment.
A total of 79 projects valued at $4.8 million met the criteria and will receive funding.