Emergency responders in D.C. have been busy in recent years — whether it’s at the city or federal level. Now, the next time things hit the fan, District and federal officials have an improved space to coordinate a response.
The city’s new Emergency Operations Center sits off South Capitol Street in the Navy Yard area, putting it blocks away from the U.S. Capitol, not far from downtown and the National Mall.
The old EOC was located at St. Elizabeths near the U.S. Department of Homeland Security campus.
“We’ve learned a lot, certainly, over the past three years, and that is that we need to be prepared for anything and everything,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Whether it’s a global pandemic or an emergency at the Capitol, we need to be ready to respond.”
Bowser said last year alone, the city activated its Emergency Operations Center about 25 times.
This new venue is over 40,000 square feet, and has room for hundreds of people to work and meet. The Situation Room alone can seat 130 people, and an adjoining Joint Information Center has seating for 40 more.
“We know that means better coordination,” said Bowser. “Our hope is that we don’t have to use it for a global pandemic or an attack on our Capitol, or any of the emergencies that can happen in big cities around the world.”
A big point of pride is the ability for the city to work and train with federal counterparts when needed. It even has permanent space for federal partners.
“This 42,000 square foot emergency operations center is a shining example of how federal and local partners can work alongside and with another,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
D.C.’s entire Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency staff will be moving into the new building over the coming months — though, eventually, the administrative staff will move back to the venue at St. Elizabeths once a renovation of that building is complete, expected by fall 2025.