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Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center was a civilian command facility and the center of operations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. It functioned as a main relocation site for the highest level civilian and military officials.
Access to Mount Weather was via the Blue Ridge Mountain Road, or Route 601, in Bluemont, Virginia.
Mount Weather was originally acquired by the National Weather Bureau to launch weather balloons and kites. In 1936 it passed to the Bureau of Mines, which bored a short experimental tunnel less than 300 feet beneath the mountain's crest to test new mining techniques. Based on a favorable evaluation of the hardness and integrity of the mountains rock, the Bureau began construction of the facility's tunnels in 1954, which were completed by the Army Corps of Engineers under the code name "Operation High Point." Total construction costs were estimated to have exceeded $1 billion. Tunnel rooves were shored up with some 21,000 iron bolts driven eight to ten feet into the overhead rock. The entrance was protected by a guillotine gate, and a ten foot tall by 20 foot wide 34-ton blast door that was five feet thick took ten to 15 minutes to open or close.
The underground facility within Mount Weather, designated "Area B", was completed in 1959. FEMA established training facilities on the mountain's surface in 1979. A net control station for the FEMA National Radio System, or FNARS, which was a high-frequency radio system that connected most federal public safety agencies and the U.S. military with most of the states, was located there. FNARS also provided presidential access to the Emergency Alert System, or EAS.
The underground bunker also included a hospital, crematorium, dining and recreation areas, sleeping quarters, reservoirs of drinking and cooling water, an emergency power plant, and a radio and television studio which was part of the Emergency Broadcasting System, or EBS. A series of side-tunnels accommodated a total of 20 office buildings, some of which were three stories tall. The East Tunnel included a computer complex for directing emergency simulations and operations through the Contingency Impact Analysis System, or CIAS, and the Resource Interruption Monitoring System, or RIMS.
An on-site 90,000 gallon/day sewage treatment plant and two 250,000 gallon above-ground storage tanks were intended to support a population of 200 for up to 30 days. Although the facility was designed to accommodate several thousand people, only the President, the Cabinet, and Supreme Court were provided private sleeping quarters.
For Continuity of Government, or COG, purposes, senior officials were divided into Alpha, Bravo and Charlie teams -- one remained in Washington, another relocated to Mount Weather, and the third dispersed to other relocation sites.
The first full-scale activation of the facility came on November 9, 1965 at the time of the great Northeastern power blackout.
The site gained wide public recognition when The Washington Post mentioned the government facility while reporting on the December 1, 1974 crash into Mount Weather of TWA Flight 514, a Boeing 727 jetliner.
On October 3, 1983, after spending a week aboard the E-4B National Emergency Airborne Command Post, or "Kneecap", President Ronald Reagan was transferred to Mount Weather, which managed to survive Doomsday. Vice-President George Bush, on the other hand, was relocated to the Greenbrier Hotel facility.
Established with enough food supplies for only two years, President Reagan and his staff were facing a dire situation. The facility's food stocks were running low, and neighboring Virginia farms were abandoned and orchards were producing mutated fruit or in most cases none at all. Salvage teams from his Secret Service had been sent out to get more, but were having little luck as the few surviving locals had picked stores and restaurants clean. Contact with Vice-President Bush at the Greenbrier indicated the same situation was affecting them. On May 3, 1984 the decision was made to evacuate President Reagan and Vice-President Bush from North America and fly them to Australia.
Both President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush left the U.S. on May 5, 1984.
In 2009, units of the Virginian Republic occupied Mount Weather. The facility was in a state of disrepair and most useful supplies and machines had been looted some time ago. Virginia and the WCRB are in negotiations to rebuild and repair Mount Weather into a base of operations for the WCRB.
- Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center on Wikipedia