May 14, 2019

MEMO TO:        Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:             Laura Rotchford, Finance Director

SUBJECT:       Off-Island Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

The Board of Commissioners is asked to approve the attached Resolution Authorizing Emergency Operations Agreement to formally renew a relationship with McNeill’s Golf Management, Inc. for the use of the Silver Creek Golf Club clubhouse building as an off-island emergency operations center (EOC).  The attached agreement is identical to an agreement first executed by the Town in 2012 and renewed several times since 2012.  Fortunately, the Town has not had the need to utilize the Silver Creek Golf Club facility for previous hurricane events.

For Category I, Category II, and (some) Category III hurricanes, the Town’s emergency operations center is technically the Town Administration Building, but is essentially decentralized to the various Town departments located at the Town Government complex.  The Town would utilize the off-island EOC only if the Town is threatened and/or impacted by a Category III hurricane or larger and it becomes necessary to relocate all essential personnel from the island for safety reasons.  The Town’s emergency operations plan stipulates that a decision for essential personnel to evacuate the island for a Category III storm is a judgment call (may remain or may leave, depending on the circumstances of the particular storm), and stipulates that essential personnel will evacuate if the Town is threatened by a Category IV or V hurricane. 

Under the attached agreement, Town public safety personnel (Police, Fire, and EMS) and other essential personnel (Town Manager and certain employees in other Town departments) would relocate to the Silver Creek Golf Club clubhouse, located in Peletier just off of NC 58, along with the strategic relocation of key Town vehicles and equipment.  The golf clubhouse facility has ample room for Town staff inside the building, and there is significant parking available for Town vehicles and equipment.  The Town’s intent would be to remain at this facility during the storm, return to the island for damage assessment as soon as possible after the storm, and relocate all Town operations back to the island as soon as safe and feasible.  The attached agreement allows the Town to remain at the Silver Creek location as long as necessary, and Town staff would obviously be working to minimize the length of stay.

McNeill’s Golf Management, Inc. has again offered to make this facility available at no cost to the Town, however, the agreement does include a provision for the payment of rent if the duration of the Town’s stay exceeds 1 week.  In this event, it is very likely that FEMA would reimburse the Town for such rental expenses.  The Town greatly appreciates the community spirit of Eddie McNeill, the owner of the Silver Creek Golf Club, in making this facility available to the Town. 

The agreement stipulates that the Town will be responsible for any damages to the facility caused by the Town’s use, and also indemnifies McNeill’s Golf Management, Inc. from any claims arising out of the Town’s use of the facility. 

Fire Chief Walker and Assistant Chief Askew previously completed a through review of potential off-island EOC locations in western Carteret County, and believe that the Silver Creek location best meets the Town’s needs in the event of a potentially catastrophic hurricane event.  The Silver Creek location is approximately 5.2 miles from the Emerald Isle side of the NC 58 bridge, and has an elevation of approximately 32 feet above sea level.  The clubhouse building appears to be sound construction, has ample room for Town staff, and also includes cooking and bathroom facilities.  We believe this location is a much better alternative than the previously identified Bogue Sound Elementary School on NC 24 near Broad Creek.  That location is approximately 8.8 miles from the Emerald Isle side of the NC 58 bridge and is at an elevation of approximately 21 feet above sea level.  In addition, it is a much larger building than needed by the Town and involves a larger public organization with more complex decision-making processes.

The agreement has an initial term of slightly more than 6 months, through November 30, 2019, in order to extend through the 2019 hurricane season.  The agreement will be evaluated on an annual basis thereafter, and extended with mutual consent.  It is important to note that the Silver Creek Golf Club clubhouse is not currently equipped with an emergency generator, however, the Town previously financed the installation of a transfer switch at the building to enable the connection of a portable generator.  If needed, the Town will relocate an existing portable generator to the Silver Creek facility, and will be able to provide electricity for basic needs only.

I recommend approval of the attached resolution.  I am thankful that we have not had the need to use an off-island EOC in the past, and I hope that we never need to utilize an off-site EOC in the future, however, it is obviously prudent to have this arrangement in place prior to the actual need.