First of four hurricane shelters near completion in Jackson Co.

By Patrice Clark- bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) – When hurricane season rolls around next year, Jackson County evacuees and first responders will have a new place to hunker down in during storms. Work is almost complete on the first hurricane shelter in the Fontainebleau community.

The sounds of progress can be heard along Highway 57 shelter as workers finish up the $1.5 million facility. The build will meet FEMA's 361 new standards, which means it will be strong, sturdy and safe in order to help protect the community.

"It is all reinforced steel and concrete," Contractor Leo Wood said. "It is out of the surge inundation area, and that is one reason they picked this site to build. And it can withstand 200 mile per hour winds."

Supervisor John McKay said he's impressed with the work and what the shelter will mean for safety during major storms.

"It will be totally self contained," McKay said. "It will have generator to operate it in case the power goes out, and it will have a backup sewer system in case the power goes out."

The shelter will hold up to 300 people and will be pet friendly.

"During every hurricane, we have one, or two, or three people that won't leave if they can't bring their animal with them, and animals are important to us."

Millions in MEMA and FEMA funds will help pay for more hurricane prone shelters to go up in Vancleave, St. Martin and Hurley. McKay said before this plan, the county was using schools for shelters.

"All our shelters have to build in areas that are high enough so they won't flood. All our schools were in low lying areas."

McKay said the weather has delayed this project, but he's confident that the doors will be open in time for next hurricane season.

"It is very important that we have a place that is secure."

The Fontainebleau shelter will also be used as a community center. County officials say the other three shelters will go out for bids in the next few months.

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