Columbia Emergency Operations Center prepares for oncoming snowstorm

Monday, January 31, 2011 | 7:32 p.m. CST; updated 8:41 p.m. CST, Monday, January 31, 2011

COLUMBIA — Columbia's Emergency Operations Center was partially activated Monday afternoon as city and county officials met to discuss emergency management plans.  

“The (Emergency Operations Center) is activated when needed in an emergency such as this," Emergency Management Director Zim Schwartze said. "The warming centers are there as a reminder that we do have available places for people to go. There are no showers, no place to sleep — they’re for getting warm."

Representatives from the Police, Fire, Water and Light, and Public Works departments were present along with local EMS, Schwartze said.

Schwartze was also in contact with the Red Cross about its established shelter locations, which could open when requested. The National Guard representative for Boone County has also been in contact with Schwartze and the Office of Emergency Management.

“The storm that’s coming is going to be in stages, so to speak, so what we’re doing at this time is planning for what is going to happen tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon, into Wednesday and Thursday,” Schwartze said. “If we have power outages, I will request that the shelters be opened.”

If conditions worsen, the city will fully activate the center and implement the services of all the departments in the plan. As of Monday evening, Schwartze said that kind of involvement was not necessary at this time.  

Jill Wieneke, spokeswoman for the Columbia Police Department, said in a news release that police had acquired four-wheel drive vehicles so officers could move around the city. All non-essential services, such as records clerks, desk personnel and community services aides, were being suspended, according to the release.

The release also said the front lobby of the Police Department at Sixth and Walnut streets will be open and a phone will be available for emergencies, but it will not be staffed.

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