Project Impact Launched in Harrison County

Project Impact is a program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to encourage local counties and cities to become disaster resistant before disaster strikes. FEMA gave Harrison County the designation last year, but there was a change in coordinators and the program is just now getting off the ground.

Richard Rose is using every method possible to speak out on Harrison County's "Project Impact" program. FEMA teams up with the state emergency management agency and local civil defense offices to encourage home and business owners to prepare for hurricanes and other natural disasters, long before they strike.  Rose says "If we prepare for natural disasters to minimize the damages, to provide disaster resistance will serve as saving dollars, income and lives after a disaster strikes."

State emergency officials say Hurricane Georges in 1998 left behind 13 million dollars in damage to Harrison County alone. Civil Defense Director Linda Rouse says recovery costs can be greatly reduced if people would do a few things before hand. "By making stronger building codes, retro-fitting new buildings that are in existence, putting storm shutters and of course the damage is more severe on properties that haven't been taken care of and more lives are saved if you're better prepared."

Rouse says the physical scars aren't the only consideration. Disasters greatly impact the economy, which Rouse says should encourage business owners to plan ahead too.  Rouse says "If a business is interested in having their business continue so they don't have a stoppage as far as havin' to close up for a disaster, which would be less likely if they were prepared."

FEMA gave Harrison County three hundred thousand dollars to spend over the next three years.  Rose says the money will go towards publicizing the program with displays and brochures.