Fewer Hurricane Shelters Will Open - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/04/04

Fewer Hurricane Shelters Will Open

The new map being used shows how storm surge could impact South Mississippi. Based on that map, the Red Cross decided that if a building can be damaged or flooded by category four storm conditions, that building was no longer a suitable shelter.

That decision came on a sparkling day along the shores of South Mississippi. The last thing Corrie Eleuterius had on his mind was the possibility of a hurricane churning up these waters. What was he thinking about?

"If my wife would fire me today," the shrimping tour boat operator said, "I would go fishing."

Unlike Eleuterius, the 2004 hurricane season had Linda Rouse's undivided attention.

"I think we'll be okay," the Harrison County Civil Defense director said. "The main thing for people to remember is don't rely on those hurricane shelters, if we have a major storm. They don't need to be there anyway."

Rouse attended an annual Mississippi hurricane conference. One of the main topics focused on shelters. Starting next month, the American Red Cross will not open shelters in areas where storm surge threatens those facilities. The local Red Cross director is Oscar Barnes.

"It's our endeavor to make sure that we protect the evacuees and the staff that will be working with those shelters," he said.

What that means is fewer shelters will open in areas near the water. And the one's that do open -- especially the one's south of I-10 -- will likely be run by local governments and the state, rather than the Red Cross.

"That's just another challenge that we have to face. But we will overcome," the civil defense director said.  Rouse recommends you use a shelter only as a last resort.

Back at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, Captain Eleuterius had a more colorful way of saying the same thing.

"Forty five years at sea has taught me a good lesson," he said. "When mother nature kicks up her heels, you hunt for high ground. That's all you can do. Get out of her way, let her blow herself out. Come back and pick up the pieces."

by Brad Kessie

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