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Hurricane and Tornado Shelters A Priority in Storm-Ravaged Mississippi

By Rhonda Miller | Published 23 May 2011 02:48pm | comments
Rupert Lacy, Director of Harrison County Emergency Management, right, goes over details of the new hurricane shelter on County Farm Road with architects Brian Williams, center, and Heath Perry.

The demand for tornado shelters is skyrocketing and new hurricane evacuation centers are opening on the Gulf Coast. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports Mississippi is preparing for shelter from the storm.

Workers are finishing up details at the new hurricane shelter on County Farm Road. The inside is the color of coffee with cream and it looks like a community center. Harrison County Emergency Manager Rupert Lacy says 1,000 people can sleep here - but it’s a bunker, not a hotel.

"You’re in the main room of the shelter. This is where the housing will take place. You’re talking about 10-square-foot per person," Lacy said. "That’s not a lot of space, just enough to lay down and not be on top of each other."

This is one of three new Harrison County hurricane shelters, paid for by FEMA for a total of $12 million.

Architect Brian Williams says the building can withstand 200-mile-an-hour winds and has generators and other utility buildings.

"The complex is 100-percent self-contained for a minimum of 72 hours - water, power, sewer system," Williams said.

It’s not just the Gulf Coast preparing for storms. Since tornadoes took lives in northern Mississippi, the demand for storm shelters has skyrocketed.

John Blackford is president of Southern Home Safety, a storm shelter company in Prarie. Blackford says there’s a waiting list of four-to-six weeks. He’s already used his shelter.

"Well, we were in ours four times the other day when Smithville was hit." Blackford said. "I have a large family. There's nine children and me and my wife, and my mother-in-law, and our animals, of course, and we had plenty of room."

With hurricane season starting June first and unpredictable tornadoes, it’s time to prepare a storm kit and an evacuation plan –just in case you have to head for shelter from the storm.

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Rupert Lacy, Director of Harrison County Emergency Management, right, goes over details of the new hurricane shelter on County Farm Road with architects Brian Williams, center, and Heath Perry.


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