The doors of the Gulfport Salvation Army remain open thanks to the generosity of some caring people. On Friday, Gulfport building inspectors told the Salvation Army there were serious code violations at its shelter on 24th Avenue. If the problems weren't corrected by 5 p.m. on Monday the shelter would have to close.
"I didn't have anything but the clothes on my back," said France, a homeless woman.
When she had nowhere else to go, the Salvation Army took her in. She spent most of Monday worrying what would happen if the Gulfport shelter had to turn people away.
"I will be out on the sidewalk," she said. "I'm very scared about that and I pray to God that people will rally around this."
About 65 people sleep at the shelter each night. Building inspectors found enough code violations on Friday to shut down the shelter immediately.
Major Darrell Kingsbury heads the Gulfport Salvation Army.
"When they [inspectors] were here it was about 4:30 p.m. and they were talking about a 5 o'clock deadline at that point and there was no way that we could have done anything in 30 minutes."
The 40-year-old buildings needed lighted exit signs, emergency lights and smoke detectors that all go off whenever one is triggered. The city gave the shelter more time and asked the Mississippi Gulf Coast Homebuilders Association for help.
The Association's president John Ruble pointed out to WLOX violations like a door that opened inward instead of outward, as is required by law in dormitory type buildings. Ruble's group is picking up the tab for labor and materials which could be as much as $8,000. The group is doing for the charity, what the charity couldn't do itself.
"This is what we do," Ruble said. "This is our community, our home. We need to give back something. That's why we're here."
Kingsbury says he's grateful. With tears in his eyes he said, "To the Salvation Army, it means that people we pull off of the streets will not go back on the streets. It means that this great community has stepped forward once again."
Gulfport city officials say the inspection was prompted by a complaint and that they are trying to work with the shelter to make the other necessary changes. Meanwhile, Salvation Army officials say they're in a difficult position for making improvements because they plan to tear down the existing shelter and build a new one in the next few years.
Increasing the U.S. Navy fleet to a minimum of 355 ships is now the official policy of the United States. And that's great news for the companies that can make it happen, like Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula.More >>
Students in Biloxi are learning about healthy eating through a unique hands-on experience. It's a mobile, teaching kitchen, nicknamed Elly.More >>
Christmas came a little early for kids across the Gulf Coast today after more than 30 bikes were delivered to a Gulfport school.More >>
Deborah Albert has been giving away dolls for over 30 years now. That generous move was born out of the heartbreaking loss of her daughter. Amy Michelle Walters was just seven-years-old when her life was cut short after she was hit by a car in Gulfport.More >>
Officers put the 11-year-old in cuffs, patted her down and put her in the back of a cop car as her mother pleaded with police not to take her daughter.More >>
Authorities say the incident is especially frightening because they believe the suspect didn’t know the victims beforehand.More >>
Officials say the largest, most destructive wildfire burning in Southern California is expected to grow as it enters its second week.More >>
Hattiesburg Police arrested and charged eight suspects after a shooting at the Bonhomie Apartment complex left three people injured.More >>
A Federal Judge ruled in favor of a request from law enforcement from Bermuda to extradite a former Huntsville elementary school teacher facing sexual abuse allegations.More >>
Shelby county woman enters guilty plea after police say she watched her car burn with her baby inside.More >>
It was a typical busy breakfast rush at the 5 & Diner in Scottsdale, AZ. But then a stranger ordered eggs and bacon and left behind a lot more than the $17 he owed for his food.More >>
An internationally watched Senate election is down to voters in Alabama who will choose between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones.More >>