Red Cross prepares new emergency operations center

Myrtle Beach, SC - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Coastal Carolina Chapter of the American Red Cross is doing its part to prepare for what's predicted to be an active hurricane season.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there are likely to be between 14 and 23 named storms throughout the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane season. NOAA predicts that three to seven of those could be major hurricanes.

The Red Cross in Myrtle Beach is opening a new facility to help handle its emergency operations.

Angela Nicholas, chief executive officer for the chapter, says the new center is designed to be safe, secure, and technologically ready for whatever mother nature throws has in store. The center is built to withstand Category 3 hurricanes.

"It's really important to the Red Cross because we're here in the community. We have a certain job to do," said Nicholas. "We work with all the state and local agencies that provide emergency response and they rely on us to do our part."

Jim Ellis worked with the Red Cross during Hurricane Floyd and says this center would have strengthened communications.

"It's definitely helpful to have everybody in one room, being able to communicate with people electronically," Ellis explained. "Back then, we relied on cell phones, and if the cell phones went out, we were probably in trouble."

Red cross officials spent Thursday bringing in desks and chairs for the new center.

"We will have the equipment and the ability to do a lot of things we haven't done before in organizing, coordinating and coordinating our response effort," Ellis said.

The center has been in the works for about two years. Nicholas says the agency is using a grant from the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority to pay for the facility that should be complete in the next few weeks.

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