June 1, 2018
The U.S. Government announced it will fund the construction of an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for the province of Neuquén, at the request of the provincial government. The facility will serve as a center for members of the Civil Defense and other entities that provide disaster response, as designated by provincial authorities.
The EOC will be built in a compound of approximately 6,458 square feet located near Neuquén city airport. It will include an operations center and offices with equipment for contingency monitoring, coordination, and planning purposes. The facility will also include a warehouse for humanitarian aid materials donated to the province by the Unites States in 2009 and 2017, including tents, cots, six-wheel drive vehicles, and other materials necessary to set up an evacuation center.
“We are very proud to help Neuquén strengthen its response capabilities for potential emergencies,” said Ambassador Edward Prado after recalling that northern Patagonia has suffered the consequences of environmental emergencies in recent years, and added: “Our country has a long history of assistance and cooperation with partner nations. We are pleased to announce the construction of this center for the province of Neuquén, with which we have so many common ties.”
Governor Gutiérrez expressed gratitude for reaching this phase of the agreement: “We are working together to guarantee the best possible crisis management program for the province and the people of Neuquén. The donation of this equipment strengthens the relationship between Neuquén and the U.S. Embassy.”
In mid-May 2018, a team of engineers and technicians from the U.S. visited the site where the center will be built and confirmed that the conditions were satisfactory to move forward with the plan. The project will have an estimated cost of US $1.3 million and a private company will build the facility in the course of approximately 1 year. The construction of the project will be allocated through a bidding process, using local workers.
Once the EOC is finished, the province of Neuquén will be fully in charge of its management, operations, staffing and maintenance. The government of Neuquén is committed to using the facility for the purpose for which it was required: Operations Center/Emergency and Disaster Relief Coordination, as well as warehouse for disaster response material and equipment.
“The Government of the United States hopes that this center will help to strengthen disaster response capabilities of the province of Neuquén at the local and regional levels,” concluded Ambassador Prado.
The project is part of the U.S. Department of Defense Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response Program (HA/DR), the initiative that supported the U.S. search efforts for the ARA San Juan, as well as other U.S. humanitarian and disaster relief operations throughout the world such as the response to the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti. This program seeks to help partner nations strengthen their disaster preparedness, response and mitigation capabilities, with the understanding that logistical coordination is essential to the success of relief operations. The Disaster Response component of the program facilitated the construction of emergency facilities similar to the EOC planned for Neuquén in many Latin American countries.