Jackson County prepares to open first emergency shelter - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Jackson County prepares to open first emergency shelter

By Patrice Clark – bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The weekend tornado that struck central Mississippi underscores the importance of emergency preparation and shelters.  This week, Jackson County will mark an important milestone in disaster planning.  The first post-Katrina emergency shelter built to FEMA's hurricane standards will open. 

With hurricane season about a month away, Jackson County firefighters say they're preparing for whatever the season brings. But they no longer have to worry about where they'll stay. The new FEMA, MEMA Fontainebleau shelter is opening its doors to first responders and citizens.

"Going back to Katrina, after it, we had first responders that stayed in tents to have a place to stay here cause we didn't have a facility," Fontainebleau Fire Chief Michael Belton said.   

Beryl Davis lives a few miles away from the new shelter, and she's relieved the shelter is ready for this storm season. She rode out Katrina in her home, watching the water rise. 

"I was definitely surprised because our home is like 30 feet above sea level and it came in here," Beryl Davis said. 

The shelter is in supervisor John McKay's district. He said the building is safe and solid. 

"The roofs are 18 inches in concrete; the walls are 18 inches thick in concrete," McKay said about the new shelter.  "It is a self contained facility, and you have a generator that operates in case power goes out." 

There are three other shelters that will be going up throughout Jackson County. The shelters will be located in St. Martin, Vancleave and Hurley. 

"We pick those areas because they are central to the population areas, they are central to evacuation routes, and they are also on high enough ground," Supervisor Mike Magnum said.

Board President Mike Magnum said although the Fontainebleau shelter will be open, he encourages citizens to make their own plans to pack up and leave town if a major storm hits this hurricane season.  Federal and county funds will pay for the shelters.

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